As an estate planning and estate administration attorney firm, we routinely get questions when an individual’s loved one has died and they believe they are owed an inheritance. Perhaps they heard their loved one mention a Last Will and Testament or a Revocable Trust or, worse, a loved one died and because the individual is the only reviving heir, they are confused when they can’t obtain a second mortgage. Leaving the latter situation for another time, below are a few common questions we are often asked.
Q: How will I know if I’m a beneficiary of my mother’s Will or Trust?
A: The Executor or Trustee must contact you; it’s the law.
Q: My grandmother died a year ago and had a Trust. My uncle, the Trustee, won’t tell me anything. Is there anything I can do?
A: Your grandmother may have left everything to her children (your uncle and parent) equally and not per stirpes, in which case, you may not be entitled to know anything. However, if your parent, who was your grandmother’s child, predeceased your grandmother, you could seek to probate your grandmother’s estate.
Q: My father died and his Trust left everything to my stepmother, and upon her death, me and my siblings will inherit. Can’t we get anything now?
A: If the terms of the trust are validly provided as you stated, you can’t receive anything now. You may receive inheritance from life insurance or bank accounts whereby your were the designated beneficiary but that’s all. A marital Trust, which is what this may be, generally provides all income and complete discretionary distributions of all principal to the surviving spouse. In other words, your stepmother can spend up or sell all trust assets, leaving you and your siblings with nothing. Be nice to your stepmom.
Q: My sibling mentioned her Trust before dying a month ago and we can’t find it among her papers. What she me and our other brother do?
A: If she had a lawyer, contact the lawyer. If she was a regular client at a bank, maybe she has a safe deposit box, which will require a Small Estate Affidavit to open; but it could be in there. If you can’t find anything in 90 days, click here to learn about probate.
Feel free to contact us if you’ve got a question.