Answers to Common Questions and Situations

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What are my rights as a beneficiary to an estate?

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.

estate beneficiary rights

The second category are estate 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.

Disclaimer: The information above is provided for general information only and should not be considered legal advice. Our probate attorneys provide legal advice to our clients after talking about the specific circumstances of the client’s situation. Our law firm cannot give you legal advice unless we understand your situation by talking with you. Please contact our law office to receive specific information about your situation.

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About the author

Erik J. Broel
Founder & ceo

Erik founded the firm in 2009. He sees it as his personal mission to demystify the process of handling an estate or trust, and to help people by making the complex estate process simple and accessible. He believes there is always a better way to do things, and loves finding new and innovative ways to deliver better, more effective service that solves the client’s key problem or issue, and improves the client’s life.

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