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When a loved one passes, many California residents may anticipate receiving something from the estate. You may have had your eye on a particular object that would remind you of your loved one, or you may have expected that he or she left you a considerable portion of the remaining estate due to your relationship.

Of course, it is not unusual for individuals to not fully know what they may receive from loved ones’ estates until the disclosure of the information in the decedents’ wills. In many cases, beneficiaries wait until the executor of the estate notifies them that probate proceedings have begun and that the court has validated the will. As a potential beneficiary, you may wonder when that notification will occur.

Notifying beneficiaries

The person acting as the executor of the estate must take the will and file it with the probate court. The court must then determine whether the document is valid under state law. If the document meets the requirements, it will go into the public record, and probate proceedings can move forward. After this validation, the executor has up to three months to inform you and other beneficiaries that the probate process has started.

Checking the public record

As mentioned, a validated will becomes part of the public record. As a result, if you do not want to wait for the executor to send you a formal notification regarding your possible beneficiary status, you could request a copy of the document yourself. The information in the will could help you better understand whether you may be in line to receive a bequest from the estate.

No probate proceedings

If the decedent took measures to avoid the probate process, the representative of the estate does not have any specific requirements for notifying beneficiaries about the goings-on with the estate. Parties may also privately settle the remaining affairs of the estate.

Concerns about the executor

Of course, executors typically do have the duty to keep beneficiaries in the loop during probate proceedings. If you believe that the executor of your loved one’s estate is not acting properly due to hiding information, not providing answers to the beneficiaries’ questions, or otherwise possibly breaching his or her fiduciary duty, you may want to speak with an attorney about your concerns. In some instances, an executor’s behavior could warrant legal action to ensure that he or she is handling the responsibilities of closing the estate properly.