Perhaps your father, who recently died, is survived by his second wife who claims that he left everything to her except for small gifts of money to you and your sister.
Did your father leave a will? You want to find out all you can, but certain information is only available to “interested persons.” Do you qualify?
About probate litigation
There are a number of reasons for someone to contest a will. If you have questions about what your father may or may not have left to you and your sister after he died, there are some preliminary steps to take. First, you have to establish whether your father created a will. Then you have to locate it. If you wish to dispute what your stepmother has told you, the next step may be a legal proceeding.
About interested persons
As of September 2005, the Office of the Secretary of State in New Jersey maintains a Will Registry. The testator who creates a will and his or her attorney can sign onto the Will Registry Program. Registration is voluntary and a decision not to register will have no effect on the validity of a will. Only interested persons or their representatives may access the Will Registry. In the state of New Jersey, interested persons include “children, spouses, potential heirs, devisees, fiduciaries, creditors, beneficiaries and any others having a property right in or claim against a trust estate or the estate of a descendent.”
“Interested persons” have to stand in New Jersey probate matters. If you are able to locate your father’s will, you may find discrepancies based on the information your stepmother provided. It is best to follow up by seeking legal guidance. As an interested person, you may wish to resolve the situation outside of court if at all possible.