5 Easy Tips to Help You Make Sense of Inheritance Documents
You can read a final will and testament over once or twice to get a general sense of who has been included and who the acting executor is, and who will be administering the will. A final will may spell out in plain language what your inheritance consists of, but the estate has to be settled before you can expect to be paid.
So, why is it that so many people get confused when an estate is going through probate? Some might even wonder, “why am I being denied my rightful inheritance?” The truth is that wills have to be checked for authenticity, and they can sometimes also be contested. Additionally, there are states in the US where probate is required before an inheritance will be dispersed. Use these five easy tips to help you read and make sense of inheritance documents.
- Meet with a Lawyer
If you need to know and understand what your inheritance documents mean, then you need to cut to the chase. Find a probate and estate attorney who practices in the state where the last will and testament was drawn up. If there is anything that is problematic in your inheritance documents, a trained attorney will be able to express this to you. Consequently, if it is found that your inheritance documents are not valid, you can be advised on how you can go about still receiving your rightful inheritance.
Remember that estate laws can vary from state to state, so having what is included in the will explained to you by a legal professional will absolutely help you to make sense of everything.
- Look for the Names of All Beneficiaries
Will you be looking to inherit all of the left behind assets from a deceased relative, or will you and your siblings be left to split an inheritance and the estate tax bill? When there are multiple beneficiaries who will be inheriting real property, for instance, there can be delays due to disagreement about how to divvy things up. There may be clauses in your inheritance documentation to include all known blood relatives, even if they are people that you’ve never seen before in your life. Know exactly who you may be sharing your rightful inheritance with to understand what the outcome is going to be.
- See If There Are Any Exclusions
Don’t just read over your inheritance documents and assume that all names listed are beneficiaries. Some wills include the names of children, spouses, nephews, or even parents who are explicitly disinherited from the deceased’s estate. All disinherited parties generally show up on last will and testaments because under normal circumstances, the parties believe that they are going to receive some type of inheritance. Whether or not you agree with a relative being disinherited is not the point of understanding a will and going through probate. Note who is supposed to be receiving an inheritance and check with an attorney about having the estate settled.
- Check for a Signature
Wills have to be signed, not just by the deceased, but also by a witness in order to be valid. When looking at inheritance documents, make sure that the paperwork is signed and looks to be authentic. The signature must match up with the known signature and handwriting of the deceased. If you have questions about the validity of a will, you have to contest it as soon as possible.
- Review the Date
After a relative has died, sometimes families do not just find one will. Instead, they find several versions of the same will and testament that has been updated periodically. Births, divorce, property purchases and even changes in career might cause someone to change their will. Check the date on your documentation to see that you have the most recent copy of the final will and testament. Sometimes people will file a copy of their will with their attorney, accountant, or another trusted friend or confidant. Be certain that you have checked all known places for the most up to date version of the deceased’s will.
Sometimes greed is a major factor and motivator when it comes to inheritances. If you have a deceased loved one and you want to honor them by ensuring that their final will and testament is executed, then you need to understand what your inheritance documents actually say. Check state law to see if an estate tax is applicable, include all beneficiaries who are listed in the will, and try to execute the will as soon as possible so that the funds are dispersed. Getting a legal expert to look at your inheritance documents can also help to prevent you from unknowingly making a major snafu. Everyone will feel more peace in their hearts once the will is finalized and your dear relative can finally lay to rest.