Does a probate attorney need proof of a beneficiary being awarded a retirement account?

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Does a probate attorney need proof of a beneficiary being awarded a retirement account?

I was the named beneficiary on my late aunts
retirement account. My mother her sister recently
became executor of the estate after hiring a probate
attorney. The attorney is requesting that I give him the
letter I received from the retirement company. He
claims to need it for disclosure reasons so that my
mom will be protected if any relatives were to ask in
the future where the retirement funds went. This
sounds fishy to me. Am I legally obligated to provide
this letter to him?

Asked on October 26, 2019 under Estate Planning, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

What is fishy about it? The lawyer is not trying to deny you the money or trying to recover it from you--he simply wants evidence that you are the beneficiary.
The attorney has a legitimate point: if you were not properly named as the beneficiary, the acccount would go to your aunt's estate and be divided as per her will or as per "intestate succession" (the rules for who gets what when there is no will). So other relatives may have an interest in the account unless you were the named beneficiary. If the attorney allows the money to go to you without proof that it should, those who believe they were entitled to the money might try to take action against the attorney. It is reasonable for him to get proof that you are entitled to it in order to protect himself.


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