By: Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
June 14, 2018
How Do You Know If Someone Left You Money in a Will?
A well-off relative recently died. Growing up you saw this relative fairly often, but you hadn’t been close since you became an adult. After experiencing an initial bout of grief, you start wondering: what if they left you money in their will?
It feels wrong to bring something like that up with the immediate family, but you also want to know. Is there anything that you can do to find out? What happens if you discover that you were left something?
This is a situation that many people have contacted our office about over the years, so you’re not alone. Here is some advice on how to learn if you are someone’s beneficiary and how to claim what’s yours if you are.
Finding Out If You are a Beneficiary in Someone’s Estate
There are two main ways to learn if you will be a beneficiary to someone’s estate.
1. Contact the Court Clerk’s Office.
When someone dies and leaves a valid will, most often it must be filed in the court clerk’s office of the country where they lived. Once it is filed (which usually happens fairly quickly), it becomes a public document.
So, get the contact information for the deceased’s court clerk’s office and stop by or give them a call. In some cases, they may be able to mail a copy of the will to you – for a fee, of course.
2. Learn Florida’s Intestacy Laws.
This one only applies if the deceased did not have a will. If you find yourself in that situation, it is still possible that you might inherit – if you are one of the closest living blood relatives.
Florida’s Laws on this are complicated, but generally speaking, people inherit in this order:
- siblings (and descendants of siblings)
- aunts and uncles (and their descendants)
That is not the entirety of the law, so it is recommended that you speak with a knowledgeable Florida estate planning attorney before making any plans.
What to Do If You Learn that You Are a Beneficiary
How do you proceed if you discover you’re going to inherit?
Speak to the personal representative.
This is the individual responsible for the estate. You can ask them for the will and about any settlement meeting(s) that may occur.
Look into taxes.
While you don’t get taxed for inheriting in most cases, you do get taxed on your earnings. For example, you would be taxed on the interest that money earned in a savings account. Likewise, you can be taxed based on what you do with the money.
Talk to an attorney.
This isn’t required. However, many people find it to be helpful, because the questions surrounding inheritances can be so complicated and confusing.
If you want to set up a consultation with our office, give us a call.
Barry E. Haimo, Esq.
Strategic Planning With Purpose®
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