What Are My Rights as a Beneficiary?

Many beneficiaries of a trust or Last Will and Testament are surprised to learn how minimal their involvement is throughout the estate-settlement process. Even after reading trust documents, or receiving a copy of the Will, many common questions remain:

  • How much will I inherit?
  • How long will the process take?
  • Why are the trust and other accounts not part of the probate process?
  • How will decisions be made about the sale of real estate or the liquidation of brokerage accounts?
  • What about assets not identified as part of a Will or trust?
  • What about conflicting or outdated beneficiary designations?
  • Who pays the taxes?
  • What do I do if I don’t trust the people in charge?
  • Who can answer my questions?

While a few people appointed by the court - including conservators, trustees, administrators and executors - will play outsized roles in settling an estate, most beneficiaries often feel like they are running blind on the sidelines. This may be fine in cases of small, simple estates where those in charge are trusted. But in many cases, beneficiaries may forever lack the peace of mind that comes with knowing they were treated fairly without the help of a Denver probate attorney.

Anyone named as a beneficiary can benefit from experienced legal advice. But early consultation with an experienced estate settlement law firm in Denver is critical in cases where beneficiaries have questions about the intentions or competence of those who are administering an estate.

Rights of Beneficiaries During Colorado Estate Settlement

Unfortunately, beneficiaries too often rely upon the oversight of probate court, without an understanding that many types of assets will pass to beneficiaries outside the probate court process, including:

  • Real estate, depending upon how it is titled.
  • Assets held in trust
  • Accounts that are Payable on Death
  • Accounts that are Transferable on Death

Those who wait to contact an experienced probate law firm in Denver until they have disagreements with a trustee or administrator, or those who wait until they disagree with decisions of the court, will be putting themselves at a disadvantage. Too often, beneficiaries think hiring an attorney will make settlement more contentious. Typically, the reverse is true. Experienced estate settlement attorneys know our job is to help settle an estate by keeping emotions in check. When parties to an estate have conflict at the start, those conflicts rarely settle themselves as estate settlement proceeds.

Beneficiaries have a number of legal rights, including:

  • Right to receive copies of the Will or Trust document.
  • Right to be kept informed about hearings.
  • Right to an account of assets and liabilities
  • Right to periodic reports about assets and the settlement process.
  • Right to a timely settlement of the estate.
  • Right to be made aware of liabilities or claims against an estate.
  • Right to seek legal help.
  • Right to contest valuations, distributions or other settlement issues.

While the court requires periodic accounting and updates, as we’ve discussed any number of assets may never fall under the supervision of the court. Additionally, decisions about how and when to liquidate many types of assets, including stocks, bonds and real estate, may have a significant impact on valuations, as well as tax implications.

With over 40 years of probate experience, the attorneys at Evans Case LLP are some of the most experienced estate-settlement attorneys in the Denver area. We are your local advocates, and will relentlessly fight for the welfare of you and your loved one. Seeking experienced legal help as early as possible in the process is the best strategy as it’s likely to be more effective than challenging the existing orders of the court.

If you are dealing with trust or estate issues in Colorado, call 303-757-8300 today to speak to a Denver trust litigation attorney at Evans Case LLP.

What is a trust litigation attorney? Trusts are a wonderful estate-planning tool for estates of all sizes. But they can also be confusing and because they are administered outside the supervision of probate court, experienced legal help is recommended. Contact the Denver probate attorneys at Evans Case LLP for a confidential consultation.

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Evans Case is a full-service Denver Law Firm. With more than 110 years of collective experience we are relentless and compassionate advocates for our clients. The deep legal experience and wisdom of our senior attorneys combined with fresh thinking of younger associates ensure the best possible results in each case. Our attorneys understand that the best outcomes are built on thorough understanding, compassion, and respect.

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