Who’s Hiding Poppa’s Will?

It is not unusual for me to receive a call from clients who have recently lost their parent. They start out complaining that their evil stepmom (it’s always the evil stepmother; never had an evil stepfather, at least so far!) has taken their father’s Will and hidden it.  She also does not intend to ever offer it for probate.  (Probably because he leaves everything to his own kids!)  What can be done?

If the kids know who the deceased parent’s lawyer was, they can call and ask if the lawyer has the original, or a signed copy, of the Will.  If the lawyer has it, the kids can then take the Will for probate.  Even if the lawyer only has a copy of the Last Will and Testament, they may be able to offer it for probate because they can try to assert that the original is likely in the possession of the stepmother and she has no incentive to produce the original.

Finally, a letter can be sent to the stepmother, citing Texas Penal Code §32.47.  That provision of the Penal Code provides that it is a State Jail Felony “if a person, with the intent to defraud or harm another, destroys, removes, conceals, alters, substitutes, or otherwise impairs the verity, legibility, or availability of a writing”.  Once the offending party learns that they could go to State Jail and have a felony record, they are often very eager to cough up the Will and start cooperating!  The reality is that it’s hard to enjoy Poppa’s cozy house when you are sitting it out in prison!

If you need help with a Texas probate, please give the Janis Cross a call!  I am very sorry for your loss would be happy to be of service to you.

This article is not intended to be legal advice and is not a substitute for legal representation by an attorney.  You are encouraged to seek the advice of Janis Alexander Cross to answer any specific legal questions you may have.