Protecting the Rights of Heirs & Beneficiaries
We have all heard the term "heir," probably from a murder mystery
where the murder victim was very rich. Technically speaking, an "heir"
is a person who is entitled to inherit property under the law if the deceased
did not leave a will. A beneficiary or devisee is a person named in someone's
will. Whether you are an heir or beneficiary you have certain rights.
We at Jorgensen, Brownell & Pepin, P.C. can help you understand the
extent of those rights and ensure that they are protected.
To schedule an initial consultation with our
probate lawyers in Longmont, call (720) 809-8310 today.
What Are the Rights of Heirs & Beneficiaries?
In Colorado, the person administering the estate, known as a personal representative
in Colorado, must be appointed by the court. Once appointed, the personal
representative has several duties, and the beneficiaries have certain rights.
Beneficiaries are entitled to:
- Information about the estate, including the property the decedent owned
and the property's values and the decedent's debt. Such information
is normally furnished on an inventory.
- See a copy of the will itself. (The original is normally filed with the
court after death.)
- Ask the personal representative for an account of what he or she has done
on behalf of the estate. An account should be in writing, and the personal
representative generally must provide supporting documentation if requested to do so.
A personal representative must put the interests of the estate in front
of the personal representative's own interests and must act with the
utmost honesty. Beneficiaries have the right to be treated fairly and
equally. The personal representative may not favor one beneficiary over another.
Technically there is no time limit for closing an estate. It may take some
time before a personal representative distributes property to the beneficiaries
depending on the complexity of the asset holdings, the number of creditors,
and whether there are any taxes due. Nonetheless, a personal representative
who delays distribution of estate assets without a good reason is not
fulfilling his or her duty.
Reasons a Personal Representative Can Be Removed
If a beneficiary believes that a personal representative is not acting
honestly, mismanaging funds, or otherwise not fulfilling his or her duties,
the beneficiary has the right to petition the court to have the
personal representative removed and to have a different personal representative appointed.
Give us a call today
to learn more about your rights as an heir or beneficiary.