Learn Important Probate Essentials, including key things that go wrong in an estate, how to prevent them, and what to do if they happen.
In an estate, a beneficiary has certain rights. To understand them, we must first look a couple different categories of people involved in an estate. When a person passes away leaving a valid last will and testament there are two categories of people that are entitled to certain information about the estate. The first are the heirs of the deceased. These are the biologically related family members, or those who have been adopted. Typically heirs are spouses, children, or grandchildren, and sometimes even more distant relatives.
The second category are beneficiaries. A beneficiary to an estate is named in the Will as receiving some portion or all of the deceased’s estate, and they are not always also heirs. Even if an heir is not a beneficiary under the Will they are still entitled to notice of the estate being opened and closed. In Georgia, beneficiaries are not entitled to receive notice of when an estate is being opened. They might find out about it through other avenues, but official service does not have to be given to people who are beneficiaries under a Will.
Now, once the estate is opened and there has been an executor appointed to the estate, beneficiaries can make requests to the executor for information regarding the estate’s assets and liabilities. Beneficiaries are interested parties to the estate and have rights to know what is coming into the estate and what is going out of the estate.
The most common ways of finding out this information when the executor resists is through requesting for an accounting or inventory of the estate. This will give you a better idea of what the assets and debts of the estate are and allows you to see where the monies of the estate have been spent.
Depending on what information is provided to you will determine if further actions need to be taken to investigate the assets of the estate. If you feel there is missing information or holes that need to be filled in there are ways to obtain account records of the deceased to follow the trail.
The process for exercising your rights as a beneficiary can become quite complicated and confusing if you have never done it before. Our office always recommends speaking with a qualified probate attorney to discuss the options available to you based on your specific situation.
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