The death of a close family member or loved one is typically followed by a period of grief and heightened emotions. At some point, however, the practical aspects of the death will need to be addressed, such as the need to probate the decedent’s estate. If you expect to inherit from the decedent’s estate you may also start wondering “How do I know what my inheritance is?” Though it is perfectly understandable to want to know the answer to that question, people are often reluctant to ask anyone for fear of sounding insensitive or materialistic. A better understanding of wills, trusts, and the probate process in general may be helpful and may provide you with a tactful way to find the answer to your specific query.
For most people, a Last Will and Testament provides the foundation for their estate plan. Some or all estate assets can be gifted in a Will. After the death of an individual, the decedent’s Will is admitted to probate and used as a guide for the distribution of estate assets. Once a Will is admitted to probate, it becomes public record. This means anyone can obtain a copy from the courthouse where it was filed. Check online for the probate court’s website in the county where the decedent lived or owned property at the time of death for specific instructions for making a public records request. It is important to note that prior to death, an individual’s Last Will and Testament is not public record. The only way you can find out what is in the Will is if the testator chooses to tell you or show you.
Many estate plans contain additional tools and documents beyond just a simple Will. A trust agreement, is a very common addition to a comprehensive estate plan. If your loved one created a trust agreement prior to death, there is a good chance your inheritance is included there. The terms of the trust will dictate what you stand to inherit and when. All trusts have a Trustee who was appointed by the maker of the trust. One of the duties of the Trustee is to communicate with beneficiaries. Therefore, you should hear from the Trustee relatively soon after the maker’s death. At that time you will likely be told what you will receive and when you will receive it.
Ultimately the best way to be certain what you will inherit is either to ask the estate planning attorney who is representing the estate, or to ask your own estate planning attorney to help you find the information you need.
If you have additional questions or concerns about your inheritance contact the experienced Illinois estate planning attorneys at Nash Bean Ford & Brown, LLP by calling 309-944-2188 to schedule your appointment today.