This is an article from Parman & Easterday (www.parmanlaw.com) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, that we thought others may find helpful.
For many people receiving inheritances, it comes as a surprise that formal legal processes must take place before the assets can be transferred. Even if someone has created a trust or will and named you as beneficiary, this does not mean the property is transferred to you immediately after death. Steps must be taken to ensure the inheritance is valid, taxes are paid, and ownership is formally transferred and recorded.
What are the Steps to Receiving Inheritance?
If you will be receiving an inheritance, the specific process for receiving it will vary depending upon how the money or property was left to you. The process usually involves a probate or trust administration or sometimes both.
If an inheritance is from a will, the process takes place in probate court. The person named as executor of the estate must file for probate in the county where the property was owned. Then the executor must notify potential heirs and creditors of the probate and file an accounting of the estate’s assets. Estate taxes may have to be paid depending upon the value of the estate. When the court has declared the will as valid and all valid claims against the estate have been settled, the executor can transfer the property to those receiving inheritances.
If the money or assets are left to you in a trust instead of a will, it requires a different process. There is no probate or court filing. Instead, the trustee takes charge of trust administration. The trustee provides notice to the beneficiaries, prepares an account of trust assets, and distributes the assets as required by the trust.
Should You Get Legal Help When Receiving Inheritance?
If you are receiving an inheritance and have not been named as an executor or a trust administrator, you do not have a role to play in the trust administration or probate processes. The executor and trustee are responsible for moving things along and winding up the affairs of the estate.
It can be beneficial and important for you to have legal representation if you are concerned with the management or safety of your inheritance. You want to be sure the executor or trust administrator is moving things along quickly and properly fulfilling their duties. If you want to protect the money or property coming to you, it can be a smart choice to have a legal advocate advise you.
How Can an Estate Planning Attorney Help With Receiving Inheritance?
An estate planning attorney can provide important assistance to anyone receiving an inheritance or other benefits. They can offer you guidance and protection during probate, trust administration, and other steps involved in the transfer of assets.