The death of a family member can be a difficult time for everyone in the family and often the last thing anyone wants to deal with is legal matters. However, if the deceased person owned property, his/her property must be distributed to the designated heirs and beneficiaries through the will that was left behind. The process for the administration of property and assets of a deceased person is known as probate. Many heirs are unaware of the rights that they have during the probate process. At The Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates, we can provide you with a reliable Gainesville probate attorney to ensure that your rights are protected.
Who is Considered an Heir in Florida?
When people think of an heir they usually interpret it as someone who receives assets or property from another person who has died. But that definition can include beneficiaries as well. Heirs are more specifically the the next of kin of the deceased person and if no will is left, they are the ones who receive the assets or property left behind. Heirs are the direct descendants such as the children or grandchildren of the deceased. Collateral heirs are the other relatives such as siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, etc. A beneficiary, on the other hand, does not have to be a relative in any way. In fact, beneficiaries don’t even have to be a person, it could be an organization such as a charity as long as they were named by the deceased person to receive assets from their estate. This means that heirs are not necessarily beneficiaries unless they are named in the will.
The Right to be Notified
Heirs have the right to be notified of certain events in the probate process by executors and administrators. These events include relevant documents and activities related to the estate. If you as an heir are not informed in a timely manner, you should seek the help of Gainesville, FL probate lawyers. An attorney can help you dispute decisions made without your knowledge to prevent misunderstandings, mistakes or fraud.
The Right to Object
In probate, heirs have the right to object in certain events when they are directly affected by the decision. For example, during accounting of the assets. When categorizing the assets and assigning them value, a simple error could greatly affect an heir’s financial inheritance. Because of this, heirs have the right to object to a financial statement for the court to review it and determine its accuracy. This can be done in order to avoid fraud, false claims, hiding of assets or a simple mistake.
Legal Standing of an Heir
Heirs have the right to pursue legal remedy regarding the estate if they are named in the will or have a claim based on a family relationship, even if they were not named. Filing a lawsuit can be done in order to push for an action by the executor, to challenge the terms of the will, to seek damages if an aspect of the case has been handled poorly or illegally, and to remove the executor from their position. In order to determine whether a dispute warrants a lawsuit, consult with an attorney.
The Right to Examine Asset Spending
When an heir receives assets, they will not receive their entire value. Executors and estate administrators are entitled to compensation and must pay debts owed by the estate. These fund are taken out directly out of the estate and if done incorrectly could impact the heirs. Because of this, heirs have the right to examine where the assets are being spent and how they are distributed. If there is an issue, you can dispute the decisions with the help of an attorney.
What If You Were Excluded from a Will?
Just because you are an heir does not necessarily mean that you are entitled to assets of the deceased person’s estate if there is a will and you were not named in it. Not being named in the will could happen due to an accidental omission or from being purposefully disinherited. If the result was inadvertent, an heir can challenge it. An attorney can guide you through the process and advise you, although challenging a will can be a difficult process.
Probate Lawyers in Gainesville, FL
The probate process can be time consuming and complex, requiring careful attention to every decision that is made. At The Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates, we can help ensure that your rights as an heir are not infringed upon. Contact us today for probate lawyers Gainesville residents can trust.