If you have recently lost a loved one, you likely feel somewhat lost. The person may have been a major facet in your life, and now, you wonder how you will get on without him or her. Of course, you likely also have concerns about how the remaining estate will be handled.
If you are not the executor of the estate, you may feel a bit on the outside of the legal process. However, if you believe that you are a beneficiary of the estate, you have the right to information about what steps the executor is taking to complete the process, and if the estate goes through probate, the executor must notify you and other beneficiaries.
Do you have to wait on the executor?
The first step to starting probate is having the will validated by the court. The executor will need to present the document to the probate court, and once that validation occurs, the document will go into the public record.
If you know that the document is in the public record, you do not necessarily have to wait for the executor to inform you about the contents of the will. You could request a copy of the document and look it over yourself to determine whether you are a beneficiary or if your loved one made any specific bequests to you.
What is the executor's obligation for notification?
If the estate is going through probate, the executor has three months to notify the beneficiaries that probate has opened once the court validates the will. However, if the decedent took steps to avoid probate and the estate will not go through that legal process, the executor does not have any specific obligation as far as notifying potential beneficiaries.
How can you stay informed?
As mentioned, you have the right to information about the estate and the associated probate proceedings as a beneficiary of the estate. You may request information from the executor if you have specific questions. If for some reason the executor does not provide you with information or seems to be improperly handling his or her fiduciary duties, you may want to speak with a California attorney about your concerns. In some cases, an executor's lack of responsibility could warrant legal action in efforts to protect the estate and its beneficiaries.