What happens when a beneficiary pre-deceases the maker of a Will?

UPDATED: May 2, 2011

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What happens when a beneficiary pre-deceases the maker of a Will?

My grandfather died and all was left to my grandmother. When she died it was supposed to be split between my mom and my 2 aunts. My mother died before my grandmother and as far as I know the Will stated that my mother’s 1/3 was supposed to go to my sister and I. My aunt, who don’t really favor my sister and I, said that it never said such a thing. How do I find out and what recourse do I have in this situation?

Asked on May 2, 2011 under Estate Planning, California


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss and for your situation.  If there is a Will and it has been presented to the court to follow the wishes of your grandmother (called "probated"),  then the Will would have been filed in the county in which your grandmother resided (Lived) at the time of her death.  Now, a Will is a public record which means that anyone can view it.  So you have the right to go down to the Probate Court in New York it is called the Surrogate's Court) and take a look at what it says.  Now, you should have received notice of the Will and a copy if you were mentioned in it.  If there is no Will then your Grandmother dies "intestate" and the "intestacy" laws in California would determine how the estate is divided.  Now, you will need to speak with an attorney in California because you should have gotten notice of the estate being probated even if there was no Will.  Also, state intestacy statutes generally discuss children (called "issue") of pre-deceased children of the decedent (your grandmother) and I am pretty sure that in California you and your sister should have received her share.  Get help.  Good luck. 

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