The Listen to Lawrence Letter: How do I know what’s in my parent’s will and that it’s being executed properly?

October 14, 2021
Dear Clients and Friends:
Here’s a straightforward question that gives me the chance to explain a common, but often misunderstood process. I’m talking about Probate.
Unfortunately, just uttering the word “probate” creates fear and confusion and a feeling that it should be avoided at all costs which is not always the case. But, if you are unsure about the specifics of a will that you are involved in, the probate process (as you’ll see below) will reveal all you need to know and give you the security that it is being handled properly.
My question concerns a parent’s will. I don’t have a copy, I’m not the executor but I am in their will. When the time comes, how do I know what’s in the will and that it’s being executed correctly?
The process to probate a will solves this problem for you.  When the executor goes to probate the will, they will be required by law to notify all distributees that the will is being offered for probate. You will be considered a distributee as distributees are all those who would receive your parent’s estate if there were no will. This is usually all the children and the children of deceased children. You will receive a copy of the will with the notice.
If you are not happy with what’s in the will and have grounds and the appetite to challenge it, you should hire an estate litigator and show up in court on the date the will is being offered for probate.
After the will is probated, you will have an opportunity at the end of the process to ask for an ACCOUNTING of what the executor has done. This can be a formal or informal accounting, depending upon the level of court supervision that you want and your tolerance level for the necessary delays in getting your inheritance that will result.  Hopefully, the executor will communicate with you along the way so as to alleviate your concerns.
I hope this helps! Please forward this information to your friends and relatives to share these informative answers to some very commonly asked questions.
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As always, please send me your questions. If you are thinking about it, others are probably too, so my answers will no doubt help you and many others.
Let’s stay connected.
Stay safe!
Until next time…
peace, health and happiness,
Lawrence Eric Davidow