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How We Compel Production of a Will

compel production of a will

Under SCPA § 1401, an interested party may compel the production of a will if a person he believes has possession or knowledge of the will refuses to offer such will for probate.

Why would a person refuse to offer a will for probate? There could be several reasons.

First, the person is probably not happy with the provisions of the will and would prefer the estate of the deceased to be distributed in accordance with the laws of intestacy.

Second, the person might not have the money to hire a lawyer to file the petition for probate.

Third, the person does not want to change the status quo. For example, a person who is living in the decedent’s residence would not like to probate a will that gives the residence to another heir.

Regardless of the reason, an interested party may compel a person who has possession or has knowledge of the whereabouts or destruction of the will to appear in court to produce the will or be examined as to its whereabouts.

If you are looking for an attorney to compel production of a will, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or send us an email at attorneyalbertgoodwin@gmail.com.

Who may compel production of the will

Under SCPA § 1401, the same people who can present a petition for probate of the will under SCPA § 1402 can compel the production of the will. These interested parties are:

  • a beneficiary under the will
  • any person entitled to letters of administration with the will annexed
  • a creditor
  • the public administrator

Proceedings to compel production of a will

A court proceeding to compel the production of a will is an independent special proceeding that does not determine any right except for the production and filing of the will. In this proceeding, the court directs a person to appear and be examined as to the whereabouts of the will. If the court finds that the respondent is in possession or has control of the will, the court will direct the respondent to produce the will. If, after examination, it appears that the will has been destroyed, the court cannot compel a person to produce a destroyed will.

There are several scenarios:

  • a will could be produced, and this could be the subject of a will contest
  • the will has been lost, and a party seeks to have a copy of the will probated
  • the will has been destroyed because the testator revoked the will, and the estate is to be distributed in accordance with intestacy laws

Attorney’s fees

When it appears that the respondent did not have any good reason to withhold the production of the will, the court can impose upon the respondent the responsibility of paying for the petitioner’s attorney’s fees. If not for the respondent’s refusal to have the will probated, the petitioner would not have been constrained to file the petition to compel the production of the will.

A petition to compel the production of a will is used to begin the process when the executor or a person in possession of the will refuses to offer the will for probate. If you feel that a person is hiding the will from you and refusing to offer it for probate, you can file this petition to compel the production of the will. Should you need assistance, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. We have offices in New York, NY, Brooklyn, NY and Queens, NY. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or send us an email at attorneyalbertgoodwin@gmail.com.