Under probate laws, there are three primary ways in which you can inherit money. You can be named in the last will and testament of a person who died. You can inherit money through what is known as intestate succession, the passing of the assets of a person who dies without a will. Finally, you can inherit money by being named as the beneficiary of trust (normally a family trust).
Notify the attorney who is handling the will, estate or trust. In the absence of an attorney, contact the executor, administrator or trustee.
Advise the attorney or other legal representative of your legal interest, of your belief that you are entitled to inherit.
File with the clerk of the court what legally is known as an "entry of appearance." This document advises the court and other individuals involved in the estate that you have an interest in the proceedings. Additionally, it lets the court know that you want notice of all future hearings and proceedings.
File additional documentation with the court that confirms your identity. This can include such government-issued identification like a driver's license or passport.
Appear at any future court proceedings to ensure that your interest in receiving your claimed inheritance is recognized by the court.
Establish in court that you are related to the deceased if he left no will. Under the law, certain relatives are entitled to inherit from the person who died without a will based on that relationship. For example, if you are the daughter of the deceased, confirm that relationship with the court.
- Wills, Trusts and Estates, Jesse Dukeminier, Robert H. Sitkoff, James M. Lindgren, & Stanley M. Johanson, 2005
- Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara, How to Probate a Decedent's Estate
- How to Inherit Money: A Guide to Making Good Financial Decisions After Losing Someone You Love, Michael Alexander, 1998