When a family member or loved one passes away, there is usually a grieving period that follows. At the same time, there are legal and practical steps that must be taken to administer the decedent’s estate. If you recently lost someone and you have reason to believe you will inherit from the estate, you may be struggling with how to proceed. If so, the Indianapolis probate attorneys at Frank & Kraft discuss claiming your inheritance and strategies for beneficiaries going through probate in Indiana.
The Beneficiary Dilemma: What to Say and When to Say It
The first problem beneficiaries often face following the death of a loved one is when to speak up and what to say when they do. Everyone grieves in their own way; however, you do not want to be the one who asks about an inheritance while everyone else is still focusing on the emotional impact of your loved one’s death. The good news is that you should not need to say anything to anyone if you are a beneficiary of the estate. If the probate process works as intended, the Executor or Personal Representative will notify you that you are a named beneficiary and indicate what you are designated to inherit. Likewise, if you are the beneficiary of a trust, the Trustee should notify you and provide you with a copy of the trust agreement.
Do I Need to Do Anything to Claim My Inheritance?
If you anticipate receiving a valuable and/or complex inheritance, it is always a good idea to consult with an experienced probate attorney. Generally, however, you should not need to do anything to facilitate the distribution of an inheritance. If you are a named beneficiary in the decedent’s Last Will and Testament and/or a legal heir of an intestate estate (meaning the decedent did not leave behind a Will), you should keep in contact with the Executor/Personal Representative so that he/she has your current contact information. Beyond that, you may need to sign documents or forms when the assets are ready for distribution, but nothing else should be required of you. The same basic procedures apply if you are inheriting through a trust.
What Happens If Someone Contests the Will?
One of the few times that beneficiaries may be required to act to protect an inheritance is when someone contests the validity of the Will submitted for probate. In that case, your inheritance may be at risk. A Will contest is litigated much like any other civil matter. If the contestant prevails, however, the Will submitted for probate is declared invalid and the court uses a previous Will to probate the estate. If no previous Will can be located, the Indiana intestate succession laws dictate how the estate is handled. If you are not named as a beneficiary in a previous Will and/or you will inherit less using the intestate succession rules, it is in your best interest to consult with a probate attorney immediately upon notification that someone has filed a Will contest.
How Long Will It Take Beneficiaries to Receive an Inheritance in Indiana?
Numerous factors can impact how long it takes beneficiaries to receive their inheritance in Indiana; however, it will generally take about a year for even a relatively simple estate to get through formal probate because creditors have nine months to file claims against the estate. If the estate becomes embroiled in litigation, it can take much longer to get through probate. If your inheritance consists of probate assets, you will have to wait until the end of probate to receive your inheritance. On the other hand, if your inheritance consists of assets that bypass probate (such as trust assets), you may receive your inheritance shortly after the death of the decedent.
Contact Indianapolis Probate Attorneys
For more information, please join us for an upcoming FREE seminar. If you have additional questions or concerns about claiming your inheritance and strategies for beneficiaries going through probate in Indiana, contact the experienced Indianapolis probate attorneys at Frank & Kraft by calling (317) 684-1100 to schedule an appointment.
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