When a will is filed in probate court, one of the first things normally required is to notify everyone who is named in the will or who may potentially benefit from the will. Sometimes, that can be many people, as is the case of the recently deceased actor John Mahoney.
His estate is worth approximately $5 million and there are 38 people who could be beneficiaries. Most of the time, the number of people notified is likely to be far less. If you are notified that you could potentially benefit from a will, you need to know what to expect from the probate process. This is especially true, if it is a large estate.
This was the subject of a recent Market Watch article titled "What to do if you're like one of 'Frasier' dad John Mahoney's 38 beneficiaries."
The answer to what to expect of the probate process? It depends.
State laws vary greatly about how the probate process is conducted. Your first question might be what you can expect to receive from the estate. However, that can take a long time to sort out. In some states, you can ask the probate court for a copy of the will that was filed. This might at least give you a general idea.
However, in other states, it is left to the discretion of the appointed executor whether to let people see the will. However, what the will says you should inherit, might not be what you actually receive. Other people and creditors might file claims against the estate.
What is the best thing to do, if you are a potential beneficiary of a wealthy estate? Hire a Cincinnati estate attorney who can help you with the process in the state where the probate court is located.
Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your estate plans or when probating an estate or administering a trust, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage a Cincinnati estate planning attorney.
For more information about estate planning, probate or trust administration in Cincinnati (and throughout the rest of Southwest Ohio) and to review free resources regarding estate planning, probate or trust administration, visit my website. If you have questions regarding this article or a particular legal matter, feel free to contact me at 513-399-PLAN (7526).
Reference: Market Watch (March 29, 2018) "What to do if you're like one of 'Fraiser' dad John Mahoney's 38 beneficiaries."