If you’ve been named as the beneficiary of a trust or will, you must understand your rights. The beneficiary rights attorneys at Palmer & Slay, PLLC can help you understand your legal options. Whether you have concerns about the validity of a will or believe you have a right to inherit under Mississippi’s intestacy laws, Palmer & Slay, PLLC is here to help.
Our experienced estate attorneys have the skills and experience needed to represent clients in a wide range of estate planning cases. We understand beneficiary rights under Mississippi law and will work diligently to pursue your best interests. Contact Palmer & Slay, PLLC to schedule an initial consultation.
The Rights of Beneficiaries Named in a Last Will and Testament
If you’ve received notice that you’re a beneficiary of a friend or loved one’s last will and testament, you must understand your rights. The executor or personal representative appointed in your loved one’s will is responsible for the probate administration process under court supervision. If your loved one didn’t appoint an executor, the probate court will do so.
The executor is responsible for paying your loved one’s debts and other expenses and notifying beneficiaries who will inherit assets according to the will. The executor may need to sell your loved one’s real estate and transfer the remaining assets to the beneficiaries according to the terms in the will. Executors are required to provide beneficiaries with official notice. As a beneficiary, you have a right to obtain a copy of the last will and testament.
The Benefits of Working with an Attorney As a Beneficiary
If you’ve received a notice stating you are a beneficiary of your loved one who passed away, you may wonder whether you need to hire an attorney. Working with your attorney may be beneficial, depending on the circumstances of your case. If you have concerns about the validity of the trust or will, questions about the trustee or executor’s ability to carry out his or her duties, or any other concerns, speaking to an attorney can be beneficial.
Depending on the circumstances in your case, you may only have a limited amount of time to pursue a claim. An attorney can help you understand your beneficiary rights and advise you of your legal options. If you are entitled to inherit assets, an attorney can begin pursuing a claim and negotiating a favorable outcome on your behalf.
The Rights of Trust Beneficiaries
Suppose you’ve received a notice stating that you’ve been named as a beneficiary in your friend or relative’s trust. Receiving the assets you’ve been given will be different because trusts are not subject to the probate process. Instead, the trustee or trustees named in the trust agreement are responsible for distributing trust assets. Trustees have a responsibility to manage the assets owned by the trust, pay any expenses or debts, and distribute the property and money to the beneficiaries according to the terms of the trust.
The trustee may be required to provide you with an inventory list of assets owned by the trust and an annual accounting of the assets in the trust, including the trust investments. Trustees have a fiduciary duty to manage the trust assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries, not for their benefit. When a trustee breaches his or her fiduciary duties, the beneficiary has a right to pursue a claim against him or her.
The Beneficiary’s Right to Challenge the Validity of the Trust or Will
If there is a question regarding whether your loved one’s will or trust is legally valid, you may have a right to challenge the will or trust in court. Suppose your loved one had dementia or Alzheimer’s when creating the will or trust. If your loved one lacks the mental competency to understand that he or she was creating a will or trust, a court may strike down the document, making it unenforceable.
In other cases, a third party may coerce a loved one into creating a new will and naming him or her as the sole beneficiary. If you’ve been left out of the new will, you may have a right to challenge the will by claiming a third party exerted undue influence over your loved one. Finally, the will or trust must comply with Mississippi estate planning laws to be legally enforceable. As a potential beneficiary, working with an attorney to understand your options can be helpful.
Beneficiary’s Rights in the Absence of a Will or Trust
Suppose you are the relative of a person who died without a will, trust, or other legal document. You may still have a right to inherit part or all of your loved one’s estate under Mississiipi’s intestacy laws. The probate court may need to become involved in determining who should inherit from your loved one in a process called determining heirship.
Mississippi’s intestacy laws set forth which relatives should inherit and how much each person should receive. If you’re a relative who can inherit under Mississipi’s intestacy laws, you have the right to initiate the process with the help of an attorney. An attorney can help you protect your rights as an heir at law.
Protecting Your Rights As a Beneficiary in a Complex Estate or Trust Case
When a decedent owns a business or extensive assets or is complex in another way, beneficiaries benefit from working with an attorney. Beneficiaries of complex trusts or estates may be required to acknowledge receipt of different types of legal documents. Executors may be required to obtain signed waivers from all of the named beneficiaries under a will to proceed with the probate process of the will. Before you agree to sign a waiver, you should speak to an attorney about your rights. An attorney can also help you understand complex accountancy or inventories. When necessary, an attorney can work with financial experts to determine whether the accounting is valid.
Discuss Your Case with Our Mississippi Estate Planning Attorneys
If you’re a beneficiary of a potential beneficiary, understanding your legal rights is crucial. Contact Palmer & Slay, PLLC to schedule an initial consultation with one of our Mississippi estate planning attorneys to discuss your case.
Palmer & Slay, PLLC, helps clients in Brandon, Rankin County, and Scott County with all of their wills and trust questions and needs.