What are my rights under the law to demand information on a Will and trust where my name is listed as a beneficiary?

UPDATED: Jan 25, 2011

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What are my rights under the law to demand information on a Will and trust where my name is listed as a beneficiary?

About 1-1/2 year ago, a dear friend died in KY. He was quite wealthy and left a Will and/or trust fund where I am named as one of the beneficiaries. I was notified verbally by the executor of the estate who informed me that distribution would happen in “about a year.” Since then I haven’t heard anything else and have never received a formal written notice pertaining to this inheritance. When I’ve asked the executor I get short vague answers like “in process”, “probate”, “IRS”, “the attorney is handling it”, etc. Do I have a right to know more about the process?

Asked on January 25, 2011 under Estate Planning, California


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

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

I am sorry for the loss of your friend.  Yes, you should have received notice if you are a named beneficiary in the Will and/or there is a trust document with your name on it, so to speak.  I know that you are states apart but if you know anyone that you trust in the Kentucky area they can go to the Probate Court in the County in which your friend died and review the Probate file.  Wills are considered public record.  But be aware that Trusts are not.  So if there is a trust for your benefit then it will not be in the file, although it may be mentioned in the Will.  You may want to retain an attorney to write at least a letter of inquiry on your behalf.  Good luck. 

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