Of course, the statutes’ thoroughness and usefulness has always varied and they’ve required constant updating due to many changes in society. Beneficiaries, especially widows, may have been accorded the most useful protections over the years.                         At present, all probate beneficiaries have basic rights and obligations. Here's a brief summary of a number of the rights you should enjoy if named as a beneficiary under another person's will.

Basic Rights Owed to Probate Beneficiaries

  • Complete honesty. Both the courts and the personal representatives (or executors) named in wills must handle all of their fiduciary duties in a highly responsible manner on behalf of all beneficiaries. Every effort must be made to not only locate all beneficiaries named in a will – but to also keep them up-to-date regarding all major probate proceedings;
  • Notice regarding the payment of expenses. Whenever a personal representative plans to sell part of an estate in order to pay certain administrative costs, all beneficiaries should be consulted in advance–  just in case they believe different properties or possessions should be sold first;
  • Complete openness regarding all investments. Depending upon the degree of discretion given to any one executor, beneficiaries are usually entitled to full disclosure regarding any investments being made on their behalf – both  during the pendency of probate proceedings – and until all aspects of the will have been properly settled;
  • Informed about how property will be distributed. Beneficiaries should be informed about how the property designated for them will be distributed among their heirs, should they pass away before all probate proceedings have concluded (or if they predecease the testator);
  • Told how they can reject a gift. Should a beneficiary decide against accepting a gift or right under a will, he or she should be provided with clear instructions on how to legally accomplish that goal;
  • Given general advice when inheriting shared property. When there are two or more beneficiaries inheriting shared rights in property or possessions – the personal representative should provide useful guidance and advice on how they should try to manage their combined/mutual interests;
  • Provided with a timely accounting. If you’re a beneficiary, you’re entitled to an accounting – even before all probate proceedings have concluded – whenever the court deems that such a request is justified;
  • Ask all questions necessary to understand their rights. Beneficiaries should be encouraged to ask both the court and the named personal representative any questions they have;
  • Right to have a new personal representative appointed, when justified. Should the beneficiaries have reasonable proof that the personal representative is behaving dishonestly, they have the right to request that a new one be appointed.

To obtain help with satisfying all of your Georgia estate planning needs, please contact the Law Offices of Shane Smith today.  You can schedule your free initial consultation with a knowledgeable Peachtree City estate planning attorney by calling: (770) 487-8999.

Shane Smith
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