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What steps should be taken if you think you might be named in a will?
What if a relative has died and no one tells you whether or not you are named in the will? If you find a court record of a probate case online with a "final date to file claims," an "Inventory Due Date," and an "Eighteen Month Closing Date," what does that all mean and what happens next? All in all, what are the steps if you're uninformed as to whether or not you are in a relative's will and that person has passed away recently?
If you are named in the will, someone may (or may have) attempt to contact you or you could contact the probate offices in the last cities the person was living in to get more info on what property or money could be made available to you. If you know the person's lawyer or accountant, they may be able to point you in the right direction if you explain the situation and identify yourself. Others may hire someone to do this work for them as sometimes it can get complicated or take a decent chunk of their time. If a lot of time has passed and everything has been collected by heirs and others in the will, you can double check with them if you know them or check with your and the decedent's state office of unclaimed property to see if there is anything there for you as well.
However, the absolute best bet for your question is going to be getting your own legal counsel. That way you will get state/city/county specific details as the laws vary from state to state and city to city. Each answer that you receive here could point you in the right or wrong direction (mine included) and may be quite different from laws that apply to you. Without knowing laws/particulars of the city that the deceased lived in as well as your relation and involvement in that person's life, the answers you get here could actually be very wrong, providing you with little benefit if it's not applicable to you. Find a lawyer to get the correct answers applicable to your specific situation.
Express10, Thank you! I had no idea of this could be complicated. I don't want to ask my relative since it would seem too presumptuous of me and disrespectful. I typed in the deceased relative's name and county and DID see that there is a case #.
In most cases you will be notified unless you are in some remote part of the country where this isn't possible. If you are back in town, check with the family lawyer if you're uncomfortable talking with the family. Peace. Kawi.
One thing you could do would be to let the family solicitor know you're whereabouts. If you have been named in the will they have the legal responsibility of letting you know if you are a beneficiary. Sounds like you have all the information you need to identify the case and the persons whom you should contact other than talking to the family.
Since the probate has started, you can notify the court (should be included in the court record) that you believe you have a legal claim. The inventory date is the date by which a lawyer has to produce a list of total assets discovered. I believe the 18 month closing date is the longest that probate goes on. I dealt with something like this in the case of my father's estate, and when the probate extended past 18 months, probate had to be refiled (that costs money, and in my case, all entitled parties forked over a percentage).
You can also get in touch with the attorney handling the probate and I believe they will give this information to you. I am not sure they are required to by law.
My lawyer provided folks with information about the death and heirs named.
As an aside, if the assets discovered are not complete, check your state's
unclaimed property department. It is usually listed in the site map for your home state or the decedent's state government online. If nobody is aware of an asset it will pop up many times on that site. I actually discovered an asset the court and lawyers were not aware of. I then was required by law to notify the probate lawyer and the court. I found out that the time a lawyer puts into discovery is many times determined by their level of professionalism. Duh, some lawyers are not professional. I had to fire one before I found a good and thorough one.
Also, now thinking about it, I believe that anyone named in a will is entitled by law to a copy of the will. It should be sent to you with a letter of explanation. When I was executor of my dad's estate, I had to make sure that was done.
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