Your parent dies and after grieving you wonder, where is his or her Will?  Didn’t mom say she had a Will, and she mentioned something about it going equally to all the kids, but what happened to that Will?

So you call your siblings and ask about the Will.  You are told that your sister has it, but she will not show it to you because you are disinherited so you are not entitled to a copy.  Disinherited?  How can that be, mom never mentioned anything about disinheriting you.  Plus, you and mom got along so well, how could this happen?  Are you even being told the truth?

You persist and demand a copy of the Will in writing.  You believe you should at least see the Will before you give up and go away.  Something just does not feel right.  You knew you and your sister were not close, but you never imagined she would do something like this, but what has she done and how are you going to find out?

Your sister never responds or she sends you a threatening message and tells you that you will never see a cent of your mother’s assets because mom hated you.  Oh really?  That is the first you ever heard of mom not liking you.

Now comes a call to a lawyer.  The lawyer tells you that under the California Probate Code you are entitled to a copy of your mother’s Will because you are an “heir-at-law” of your mother.  Even if the Will did disinherit you, you are still entitled to a copy.  Great, now how do you get that copy?  That’s not as easy as it should be.

Bottom line: you must file a Petition to compel your sister to hand over the Will.  In other words, there is no way for you to force your sister to hand over the Will without going to court and seeking a court order.  The good news: that a relatively straightforward petition and the court will grant your request (most likely).  The bad news: it costs money to hire an attorney, draft up the petition, and pay the court filing fee.  But will your sister have to pay that cost?  No.  As ridiculous as that sounds, it is highly unlikely that your sister will have to reimburse you for your attorneys’ fees and court costs because under our system each party pays their own fees and costs.

Once you have a copy of the Will, however, then you will know for certain what your rights are and how to take the next step to assert your rights.  Hang in there, it can be a frustrating process, but when you mom’s legacy is at stake, it’s worth the struggle.  Or maybe it’s not worth the struggle, that’s a question only you can decide.