How do you know if you were left anything in a will?

3 answers | Last updated: Jan 19, 2017
Hussle09 asked...

What if a deceased person's widow doesn't notify you of your credits? How do you know you were left anything?


Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

When a person dies, leaving behind a will, the executor named in it is responsible for notifying all the beneficiaries mentioned in the will and for distributing the property to them as directed. The executor can be anyone the person decided to name, not necessarily a spouse.

It takes a bit of time to finalize this property distribution—a procedure known as probate—an average of about 18 months after a person dies, so beneficiaries must often be a bit patient.

If you remain curious and uncertain about what the will specified, you should know that wills become public documents. You can request to see a copy at the probate court in which it was filed—usually the one closest to where the deceased person lived. Simply supply the deceased person’s name and approximate date of death.


Community Answers

Velinda answered...

How would we go about finding out if we were left something by a parent that passed away. I have a stepmother that won't tell us anything. What steps do we go about to find out?


Geo2015 answered...

Velinda, this is typical. A step mother or step brother, or hostile sibling hogs all the information, get appointed executor often, won’t allow the other heirs to talk to the executor or trustee, if it’s a rust. And so on. Meanwhile – trying to take more than they were given in the Will. It’s atypical playbook. Or – the money is really missing. And that’s even more difficult to crack, and certainly not with all those freebie Missing Money websites, or state govt. sites supposedly tracking missing money.

I think the smart money is on heir finder skills, probate research firms, to find missing inheritance money, unclaimed inheritance assets, or locating missing heirs and beneficiaries who might know more about the missing funds or who are heirs to unclaimed funds. Inheritance recovery or probate research firms who locate missing inheritance assets and missing heirs and beneficiaries… such as the American Research Bureau, www.arb.com, or maybe www.heirfinder.com. A company like that in my opinion. Even probate research blogs for unknown heirs like www.probateresearch.us tell us to trust a good genealogy and probate research team that is experienced with inheritance recovery, and locating missing and unknown heirs.

If I’m going to hire a probate and estate research company I’ll want to see that they’re top notch at find missing and unknown heirs and beneficiaries. That they can locate missing heirs quickly… track down a missing beneficiary that is named in a will… find missing and unknown heirs and beneficiaries… know how to use probate research to find missing and unknown heirs and beneficiaries; find missing and unknown heirs and beneficiaries even off shore – through estate and probate research, genealogy, etc.

I’d say you can repair your own car, or even represent yourself in court, however, some jobs are best left to professionals – in this case, professional probate researchers and genealogists, or genealogical researchers. When an heir finder takes on your missing inheritance or unclaimed inheritance case, all the probate research and related work is done for you… guaranteeing speed, efficiency and a lack of wasted time, effort and money. That is exactly why heir location services or heir finder companies are recommended by estate planning attorneys and probate attorneys all over America. The best part, if you identify the right probate research or inheritance recovery firm, is when fees associated with heir location services are owed only when there is a successful outcome, and when the estate distributes formerly unclaimed inheritance assets or formerly missing inheritance assets to the heirs – successfully in record time. Then you know it was worth the effort & expense.