Sometimes as genealogists we get stuck in the rut of "what should happen". We know that when we are researching an ancestor there are many documents that exist to verify the date of death. For example, a death certificate, a funeral card and wills or probate records. Unfortunately, sometimes we have no control over the places and employees where we request these records.
One of my friends recently traveled to Southern California to continue her research on her grandfather who died in the 1950's. She knew that he had had a will because her father was the executor. However, requests to the court clerk's office for these records were returned. She paid twice for them to do a record search and both times they insisted the records did not exist. This court does not allow researchers to look at records, you must pay for the research request and hope that the information is found.
Well my friend asked me what she should do. I suggested that she look through the newspaper for a probate notice that may be there after her grandfather's death. So many times we ignore those tiny and lengthy legal notices at the end of the newspaper, but this is one case where that notice helped her. She found the probate notice and then took that to the court. They then found the will and the supporting documents. This was a good lesson in not only being creative in getting the information you need but also in persistence. Just because an official tells you it isn't there, doesn't make it so.