As a beneficiary, you have the right to know what is happening throughout the probate period
When a loved one dies, there is a period of grieving. Then comes the time when the estate is distributed among the beneficiaries—which may bring its own type of grief. Family members often find themselves at odds with each other and, in particular, in conflict with the executor or personal representative of the estate; especially if he or she is also a beneficiary. By understanding your rights as a beneficiary, you can ensure that you are being dealt with fairly and that the estate is being distributed according to the wishes of the deceased.
Beneficiaries have the right to be informed
As a beneficiary, you are entitled to have an accounting from the executor, also known as a personal representative or fiduciary. This person has not only the duty to manage and distribute the estate according to the terms of the will but is also obligated to maintain records regarding how the estate’s assets have been handled.
Beneficiaries of a will have the right to receive a copy of the will
As a beneficiary, you can and should receive a copy of the will, which would give you an approximate amount of money you should receive. However, you do not have the right to receive the inheritance until the probate process is completed. Others who may be entitled to view or receive a copy of the will include creditors of the deceased and beneficiaries of a previous will, among others.
Beneficiaries have the right to file a complaint against an executor
If there is evidence of mismanagement or self-dealing on the part of the fiduciary (executor), you, as the beneficiary, have the right to file a complaint with the court. Unless there is good cause to force the executor to provide an immediate accounting, the fiduciary has one year from the time of their appointment in which to provide an accounting.
Beneficiaries have the right to contest the will
Under New Jersey law, there are two grounds for contesting a will: either that the testator, now deceased, was mentally incompetent at the time they made the will, or that they were unduly influenced by another person (usually another beneficiary who would gain from their influence).
If you have questions or concerns about your rights as a beneficiary, contact us for a consultation to discuss your case
New Brunswick estate administration attorney Steven M. Cytryn has extensive experience in ensuring that fiduciaries are held accountable and that beneficiaries get what their loved one intended for them. To schedule a consultation, please contact us online or call our office at (732) 214-1103.