When a person passes away, the assets they leave behind are usually distributed to their surviving relatives according to the instructions set out in their will or trust. However, the process isn't always so simple. Here are the answers to some common questions regarding claiming an inheritance and how an attorney can help.
4 FAQ About Inheritance Claims
How do I claim an inheritance?
If there is no will or trust, you might receive an inheritance by intestacy. Intestacy laws vary from state to state, but generally, the estate is passed to the closest relatives, such as the spouse or children.
If you believe you're entitled to an inheritance but don't know if you were named in a will or estate plan, contact the executor or trustee and notify them you believe you are a beneficiary. An attorney can help you file a claim with the court in the county where the deceased lived to help you get your fair share.
How can I find an unclaimed inheritance?
It's your responsibility to ensure you receive any inheritance to which you're entitled. You can check with the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) or Bureau of the Fiscal Service. It's best to work with an attorney due to the potential difficulty of the process.
When will I receive my inheritance?
Several steps must be completed before the estate can be distributed to beneficiaries. Documents such as the will, life insurance policy, debts, and assets, and other pertinent information must be reviewed. The deceased's estate must be inventoried and date-of-death values assessed.
If there was no trust, a probate case must be opened, which often doesn’t occur until two weeks after the death. The deceased's bills and debts must be paid as well.
A simple estate may be distributed within a few months, while a more complex one could take more than a year.
What is probate?
Probate is the process in which the court supervises inheritance distribution. Typically, the only way to avoid it is by producing a trust that protects assets from being used to pay back debts. Assets transferred in a trust are not a part of public record, whereas other assets will be used to pay the deceased's unpaid bills, which may include a mortgage, car payments, or taxes.
In Hawaii, it’s also possible to avoid probate for personal inheritances valued at $100,000 or less.
If you're a Honolulu, HI, resident who needs estate planning or inheritance help, turn to the trusted attorneys at the Law Offices of Neil T. Nakamura & Associates. For more than 43 years, these professionals have helped residents with wills, trusts, probate law, and inheritance distribution. Call (808) 945-7645 to schedule a free initial consultation, or visit the website to learn more about their services.