When someone dies, they often leave behind a will—a document that dictates how their money and possessions should be distributed after they’re gone.
A will ensures that a person’s loved ones will be cared for and their final wishes will be carried out. But how will you know if a family member or friend has left money behind in their will if they passed on without telling you about it?
In this article, we’ll explore how to find out if someone left you money in their will and how to claim inheritance money if you believe you’re entitled to it.
Read the Will
You may be wondering, “Do I have an unknown inheritance?” or, “What happens to unclaimed inheritance?” If the person who died left a will, the first step is to locate it and read it carefully. The will should name an executor who is responsible for carrying out the deceased’s wishes as laid out in the document.
If you are named as the executor, it will be your responsibility to track down any assets and distribute them according to the will. If you are not the executor, you will need to get in touch with the person who is and request a copy of the will.
Once you have a copy of the will, take some time to read it carefully. The will should list all of the deceased’s assets and how they should be distributed. If you are named a beneficiary, whatever you are set to inherit should be clear. If the will is unclear or you are not named as a beneficiary, you will need to contact the executor.
Not everyone leaves a will, so if the person who died didn’t leave one behind, don’t worry about lost inheritance money—you may still be able to receive unclaimed money or assets from their estate.
In this case, you will have to apply for Letters of Administration from the court. This document will give you the authority to act on behalf of the estate and distribute the assets according to the law.
To apply for Letters of Administration, you will need to fill out a form and submit it to the court. The form can often be obtained from the probate registry in your jurisdiction. Once you have submitted the form, you may need to attend a hearing, at which point the judge will decide whether to grant you Letters of Administration.
If the court grants you Letters of Administration, you will be responsible for distributing the estate’s assets according to the will or default intestacy laws. You will have to track down any assets, including unclaimed estate money, property, and possessions, and distribute them to the rightful heirs.
Handling a loved one’s estate can be complex and time-consuming, so if you’re wondering how to find out if someone left you money, seeking professional legal advice is vital. Legal professionals can also advise you on how to recover stolen inheritance in a worst-case scenario.
Ask the Attorney of the Deceased
As the deceased person’s spouse, child, partner, or other relative, you may be able to find out if they left you money in their will by asking their attorney or hiring a private investigator. The attorney will have access to the will and can tell you whether you are named as a beneficiary.
This is a more straightforward process than applying for Letters of Administration, but it may not be an option if you aren’t related to the deceased or if they didn’t have an attorney.
Search for Probate Records
If you’re still wondering how to find out if someone left you money, the next step is to search for probate records. Probate records are a public record of all the assets and money distributed from an estate after someone dies. They can be accessed through the court system or online.
Once you have located the probate records, you’ll need to search for your name. If you’re listed as a beneficiary, what you are set to inherit from the estate should be clear. If the person who died didn’t leave a will and you can’t find your name in the probate records, you likely won’t receive anything from the estate.
If you don’t feel comfortable going through the court system or don’t have the time to wait, you can search for probate records online. Several websites offer access to these records for a fee.
Make sure to do your research and choose a reputable site, though. There are a lot of scams out there.
Take the Traditional Path
If you prefer to do things the traditional way, you can always go to your local courthouse and ask to see the probate records. You will need to provide the name of the person who died and the date of their death.
The court clerk will be able to tell you if there are any probate records available and if so, will help you find them.
Once you have the probate records, it should be clear if you are a beneficiary of the estate.
What If the Deceased Didn’t Have a Will?
If a person dies without leaving a will, it’s called “dying intestate.” If this happens, their estate will be distributed according to the law.
In many cases, the deceased’s spouse or partner would inherit all their assets. If the deceased didn’t have a surviving spouse or partner, their children would inherit their assets. If the deceased didn’t have any children, their parents would inherit their assets.
If their parents are also deceased, their siblings would inherit their assets. It’s important to note that if a person dies without leaving a will, their estate will be distributed according to the law, not according to their wishes.
If you are not related to the deceased, or you are not their spouse or partner, you will not receive anything from their estate.
The only exception to this rule is if you were financially dependent on the deceased at the time of their death. In this case, you may be able to claim the estate. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s essential to seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Whatever the case may be, applying for Letters of Administration can be complicated and time-consuming, so it’s best to have professional help.
What Are the Steps to Becoming a Beneficiary of an Estate?
If you seek to be a beneficiary of an estate, there are a few steps you need to take.
First, you’ll need to locate the will. If you don’t know where it is, you can ask the deceased’s attorney or look for probate records (as mentioned above).
Next, you’ll need to file a petition with the court. In this petition, you must state your relationship to the deceased and why you believe you should be entitled to a portion of the estate.
If the court agrees with you, they court may issue an order of distribution. This document will outline how the assets of the estate should be distributed.
If you are not happy with the order of distribution, you can appeal the decision. However, this can be a complicated and costly process, so it’s best to speak to an attorney before making any moves.
Get the Help You Need
It’s never easy thinking about money when you lose a loved one. And if you find yourself thinking, “Do I have money owed to me from a will?” it’s important to know what to do to obtain what’s rightfully yours.
The tips above should get you on track, but if you still need help, it’s always best to speak to an attorney with any questions or concerns about how to find out if someone left you money.
Blake Harris Law will deliver you an effortless process with the right personalized legal advice.
Our qualified and experienced attorneys are here to answer all your questions about a will or probate process. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.