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Do you know your rights as a beneficiary?

On Behalf of | Nov 3, 2020 | Estate Planning |

Losing a loved one is often a difficult scenario to handle. While grief can certainly play a significant part during this time of your life, you also know that certain matters pertaining to the estate need addressing. As a beneficiary of the estate, you likely hope that the executor will handle these matters effectively and efficiently so that everyone involved can feel a sense of closure.

While you may have interest in receiving the bequest that your loved one left to you in his or her will, you know that the probate process can take time to complete. Still, you may wonder whether the executor is properly doing his or her part to ensure that the process is moving along quickly.

Understanding your rights as a beneficiary

The executor has the most power when it comes to settling your loved one’s estate, but you do have legal rights as a beneficiary. Understandably, you may want to know what is going on so that you can ensure that no questionable activities are taking place, so understanding your legal rights could come into play.

You have the right to know that your loved one named you as a beneficiary of the estate. Even if he or she informed you of this prior to passing, the executor still has an obligation to make this information known to you as well as what the bequest involves. Some other details regarding your rights that could prove critical include the following:

  • You do not have the right to know everything going on with the estate, details about the bequests to other beneficiaries or other general information. However, if an executor seems reluctant to keep you in the loop regarding the probate progress, it could raise a red flag.
  • You do have the right to expect the executor to complete the probate process in a reasonable time. Extensive delays may require explanation from the executor or the appointment of a new executor if unexplained delays persist.
  • Though you have a right to your bequest, paying off the estate’s debts take priority over that right. As a result, the executor could liquidate some or your entire bequest in order to pay estate debts.

If you have questions or concerns about your rights as a beneficiary or about how the executor is handling the estate, you may want to seek professional assistance. An experienced probate attorney could help you understand whether anything untoward is happening with your loved one’s estate or if the executor may have violated your rights as a beneficiary as set by Tennessee law.