How long after a person dies will it take for beneficiaries to be notified depends, in part, on the estate planning that the deceased person did. If you are the beneficiary of a trust, you are supposed to be notified within 60 days of the death of the trustmaker. If you are the beneficiary of a will or intestate estate, you are supposed to be notified at least 15 days before the initial probate court hearing date.
If the deceased person created a trust during their lifetime to pass on their assets upon their death, California Probate Code 16061.7 requires the trustee to send a notice to all trust beneficiaries and heirs within 60 days of the death.
However, the timeline for notifying beneficiaries of their inheritance outside of a trust is more variable. This is because the deadlines are calculated based on when a petition for administration of the estate is filed rather than when the person passes away.
Under California Probate Code 8000, an interested party can file a petition for administration of the estate at any time after the decedent’s death. A hearing will then be set for up to 45 days after the petition is filed.
At least 15 days before the hearing date, the petitioner must provide notice to the estate’s beneficiaries and heirs. The petitioner must also publish notifications in a newspaper of general circulation in the city where the decedent resided at the time of death or where the decedent’s property is located.
What Should a Beneficiary Do If They Have Not Been Notified of Their Inheritance?
If you are a beneficiary of a person who has recently passed away and you have not been notified of your inheritance, you should consult with a probate litigation attorney as soon as possible. There may be actions you can take, and if you don’t take action you may lose your ability to protect your rights.
For instance, if an executor did not notify you about the probate hearing for a will, you may be able to file a will contest and request that the probate court revoke the admission of the will. You can likewise contest the validity of a trust instrument in certain circumstances. A probate litigation attorney will be able to assist you in determining whether you have legal grounds to challenge a will or trust and walk you through the next best steps to help you protect yourself.
Another possible action is to file a Probate Code § 11700 petition to determine distribution rights. As an heir or beneficiary, you would have the right to file a petition to ask the court to determine who is entitled to receive a distribution of the deceased person’s property under the will or California intestate succession laws.
With any of these issues, it’s incredibly important to contact an experienced probate litigation lawyer as soon as possible. The California Probate Code is complicated and includes various deadlines and restrictions on when challenges can be made. This means that not only could any delay allow others to cause irreparable damage to the estate, but waiting to act could also result in you missing your opportunity to protect yourself. For this reason, it’s vital to speak with a probate lawyer and determine a course of action sooner rather than later.
Have questions? We’re happy to discuss.
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About RMO, LLP
RMO LLP serves clients in Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Orange County, San Diego, Kansas City, Miami, and communities throughout California, Florida, Missouri, and Kansas. Our founder, Scott E. Rahn, has been named “Top 100 – Trust and Estate Litigation” by SuperLawyers, Trusts and Estates Litigator of the Year, and Best Lawyers in America for Litigation – Trusts and Estates. For a free consultation, call (424) 320-9444 or visit: https://rmolawyers.com.