Are Beneficiaries of the Estate Entitled to See the Estate and Entitled to Be Involved In the Process?

estate planningThe end of life for your friend or family member is, naturally, a difficult time.  After the initial formalities are handled and the funeral is over, the estate will need to be probated.  Probate is the formal process during which a will is presented to a court and the estate of the decedent is then administered according to the provisions of that will.  If you have been named as a beneficiary in a will, you have specific rights and it is important that you acquaint yourself with those rights.

First, beneficiaries of an estate are entitled to see the will.  The will is filed with the probate court and is a matter of public record, and so the beneficiary is able to review the document and obtain a copy at any time after it is filed.

In addition, the beneficiary is entitled to notice concerning the probate case.  When a personal representative is appointed, a copy of an “Information of Appointment” must be sent to each beneficiary notifying him or her of the appointment.  The beneficiary is also entitled to notice of any other hearings that take place regarding the will.  The beneficiary has the right to retain his or her own attorney and appear at those hearings, although it is not always necessary.

Beneficiaries also have the right to information about the estate.  A beneficiary can request that the personal representative provide a written accounting of what services he or she has performed on behalf of the estate.  If the beneficiary requests documentation supporting the personal representative’s claims, then that documentation must generally be provided.  The beneficiary is also entitled to information about the assets and debts of the estate, as well as any property values.

If a beneficiary believes that the personal representative is mishandling the estate, then the beneficiary has the right to bring a motion asking that the personal representative be removed and replaced.  Valid reasons to request the removal of a personal representative may include allegations that the personal representative is mismanaging funds and assets, failing to perform the required duties, or is acting in a way that is contrary to the best interest of the estate.

If you have been named as the beneficiary in a will, you need expert assistance to help protect your rights.  Contact us today.  We can talk to you and about what we can do to protect your interests.