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How to Find Out if You Were Named in a Will

How to Find Out if You Were Named in a Will

preparing a last will and testament document
A last will and testament file, stampers, a pen, and a pair of eyeglass on the table

After the death of a loved one, people may learn through a notice from the estate executor or by searching out the information for themselves whether they were named as beneficiaries. When creating a last will and testament, testators may specify their beneficiaries, or those whom they want to inherit from their estates, and what they want each to receive. Even the most open and close-knit of families may not discuss these types of matters; however, leaving some unsure of their inheritance status.

Receiving Notice from the Estate Executor

Perhaps the easiest way for people to learn recently deceased loved ones named them in their wills is to wait for a notification from the decedent’s estate executor. Among their primary duties as a testator’s personal representative, estate executors must identify and notify those named as beneficiaries. In Illinois, executors must provide such notice within 14 days of filing the will for probate. Beneficiary notices may include a copy of the petition to file the will for probate and the order filing the will. Some executors may also include a copy of the will in their notices to beneficiaries. In situations when executors cannot locate beneficiaries, they must publish a notice in the newspaper published in the county of the will’s filing.

Searching Public Records

Those with questions about whether they stand to inherit from the estate of a recently deceased loved one may also conduct a search of public records. Once filed with the court for probate, wills become public record. Therefore, anyone may view them and the associated case files. In some counties, people may use online searches to look for probated wills. They may also visit the appropriate court clerk’s office in the county where the will was probated. If a case has been opened in the decedent’s name, they may view the case files, which may include a copy of the will.

Pushing for a Will Filing

When people suspect they were named in a will but have not received a notice and a probate case has not been initiated, they may take legal action to learn whether they stand to inherit from an estate. In such cases, they may petition the court to force the testator’s personal representative or person otherwise in possession of the decedent’s will to file the document with the probate court.

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