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How do I know if I am named in a will?

No matter the circumstances, losing a friend or family member comes as quite a shock. When you reach out to their family, you share your grief, memories and worries about the future. And then they mention how they must begin the probate process to distribute your loved one’s assets.

Perhaps your loved one wanted you to have their old piano since you shared a love of playing. Now, you are not sure what to do. Did they remember you, and include that in their will?

Is there a way to find out if you are to inherit?

This is a common question many people have when they face probate – especially if they were particularly close with their loved ones, such as a grandparent, aunt, uncle or even a close family friend.

There are a few ways you can find out if a loved one named you in their will, including:

  1. Asking the testator: Long before this, you can ask the testator – or your loved one who created the will. In many cases, your loved one might also inform you that they included you in their will before they pass.
  2. Asking the executor: When an executor petitions the Court for admittance of the Will to probate, a copy of the Will must be given to anyone who is named in the will as a beneficiary, heir, or executor. Additionally, the executor must also provide information about the administration of your loved one’s estate. However, not all estates have enough assets to qualify for the probate process and will not be submitted for probate. In that case, you can always ask the executor or other family members of your loved one as well about the process.
  3. Checking with the court: You can also check with the appropriate California probate court. Wills in probate are often public records, and you have a right to see the will – or at least a copy of the will. This could be an option if you have not yet received notification from the executor, or perhaps if you are unsure whether your loved one included you in the will or not.

It is not uncommon for probate to take time. On average, the process can take nine months. It all depends on the circumstances of your loved one’s estate. Unfortunately, budgetary and other conditions of the Court may also impact the resources of the Court and may increase the time to complete the probate process.  You should receive a notification if you are a beneficiary, but it still might take some time before you know if, or what, you will inherit.

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