When a person passes away and leaves an inheritance behind for loved ones, it’s natural for the person’s heirs and beneficiaries to want to know what they have been left. It’s also natural for these individuals to want to make sure the estate is being handled well or that they are receiving their rightful share.
Yet, sometimes, the persistence of or frequent requests for information from an heir or beneficiary can, from the perspective of the executor or administrator, seem pushy, nosy or as though they are trying to micromanage probating of the estate. Of course, an executor’s reluctance to share information can indicate to beneficiaries that they are hiding something or not caring for the estate properly and cause them to be more persistent.
For these reasons it’s important that executors, administrators, beneficiaries and heirs understand exactly what information heirs and beneficiaries have a right to and what executors and administrators are obligated to report. Connecticut state law protects the rights of heirs and beneficiaries to understand their inheritance and know the estate is being handled properly. The law also protects the rights of executors and administrators to probate an estate without undue interference from beneficiaries and heirs.
Rights of Beneficiaries and Heirs
- Anyone who would be an heir under Connecticut intestate laws has a right to know whether they are named as a beneficiary in a will; and
- Beneficiaries named in a will have a right to know they are named in the will; and
- Beneficiaries have a right to know what assets have been left to them; and
- If beneficiaries have been left a percentage of the estate, they have the right to know what the total value of the estate is and what the value of their share is; and
- Beneficiaries have a right to receive a copy of the will, which can be provided by the executor/administrator or obtained from the probate court; and
- Beneficiaries and heirs have a right to examine all accountings and inventories of the estate – at a minimum this includes all reports filed with probate court as required by law and any additional reports/accountings that are provided at the executor’s/administrator’s discretion; and
- Beneficiaries and heirs have the right to challenge an executor/administrator and their handling of the estate in probate court if deadlines are not being met, if there is reason to believe there are inaccuracies in reports, or if beneficiaries have reason to believe they are being deceived; and
- Beneficiaries and heirs have the right to object to the appointment of the named executor in the will and to request the probate court to appoint someone else; and
- Beneficiaries and heirs have the right to protest the will if they believe it is unfair or that it was executed under duress, under undue persuasion, while the testator was not of sound mind, or otherwise fails to meet requirements of Connecticut law.
Limitations on the Rights of Beneficiaries and Heirs
- Beneficiaries and heirs may not harass the executor/administrator of an estate; and
- They may not demand accountings, periodic updates or reports or set deadlines other than those required by law and by the probate court overseeing probate of the estate; and
- Accountings, updates and reports in addition to those required by law or probate court may be provided at the sole discretion of the executor/administrator who may refuse any request for information they deem unreasonable except as required by law or by probate court; and
- Executors/administrators are not required to defend their actions in regard to probate of an estate to a beneficiary or heir unless a formal complaint or objection is filed against them in probate court; and
- Executors/administrators have the right to defend any challenge to their accuracy or honesty in a probate court hearing if a complaint or objection is filed against them; and
- Executors/administrators have the right to file a complaint and seek the restraint of any beneficiary or heir who is harassing them or impeding their ability to probate the will.
Essentially, what it comes down to is that beneficiaries and heirs are entitled to any information that would be filed with the probate court and anything else is provided at the discretion of the executor or administrator. Generally, we encourage executors and administrators to be as forth-coming and cooperative with beneficiaries as possible as long as it is not unreasonably inconvenient or doesn’t infringe on the rights of other beneficiaries. Whenever a cooperative relationship is cultivated between an executor or administrator and the beneficiaries, the probate process goes more smoothly and everyone involved is more likely to end up satisfied.
Assistance of a Probate Attorney can Ensure Everyone’s Rights are Upheld
The probate attorneys at Weatherby & Associates, PC are available to assist executors and administrators with the probate of an estate. Having qualified legal counsel assist with probate matters can help ensure that the rights of everyone involved are upheld and can promote peace and cooperation with beneficiaries and heirs.
Our probate attorneys are also available to help beneficiaries and heirs protect their rights when an executor is being uncooperative, denying access to information they are legally entitled to, or failing to fulfill their responsibilities appropriately. Our Hartford County probate attorneys can also help when a will needs to be challenged.
Call our probate and estate planning attorneys toll free today: 888-822-8778.