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At Blanchards, we get inundated with people enquiring whether they have been left something from a relative. Although we understand it’s worth a shot asking, its rarely that simple. We need a deceased estate to work off to investigate any entitlement. Simply following your line until we find a relative with an unclaimed estate can be like finding a needle in a haystack and more than likely be a waste of time. However, if you believe you have been written into a Will, steps can be taken to prove your entitlement and claim your estate.

Does a Will exists

A grant of probate may not have been issued up to six months after a person passes. Until probate is granted a Will is a private possession. When a grant of probate has been issued, Wills become public documents of which anyone can apply for a copy. After probate has been granted, the heirs must be notified within three months, but the sooner the better.
With Wills being made public, it’s a good starting point for finding a Will for the deceased. However, if probate has not been granted, acquiring a Will can be difficult. In such cases, personal representatives can send copies of a Will to the main beneficiaries.
There are currently ongoing delays for grants for probate being issued due to the government closing all but 2 probate registry offices. This can be frustrating when trying to find the existence of a Will. If this is the case, you can ask the executors (if you know them) what you have been left. Executors will aim to contact beneficiaries as soon as possible. This is to prevent anyone making claims to the estate when they are not entitled as well as just making the process far easier and stress free on those who may be mourning.
In some cases, this contact may be delayed due to questions of the Wills validity. This can be because it was never signed, dated or there was no witness to the Wills formation and therefore no witness signature. Moreover, contact can be delayed when finding the correct beneficiaries becomes difficult.

Legal rights

Before distribution, beneficiaries do not have any rights to information regarding the estate but should instead be updated with new information by the executor. They should also keep you up to date with the accounts, ready to show the beneficiary when requested. After distribution, beneficiaries will have all legal rights over their share of inheritance.
Estates are usually settled and paid out between one and two years. This of course depends on the size and complexity of the estate. More beneficiaries, more assets or foreign assets may mean a longer period before settlement.

Mismanagement of an estate

In rare instances executors will act dishonest, negligible and in some instances fraudulent. This can include being reckless with funds, selling the property under market value (sometimes for personal gain) and failure to disclose any accounts. If you feel executors are mismanaging the administration of an estate, you have the right to take legal action against them.

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