How to Claim an Inheritance

An inheritance may be received through various estate planning instruments, such as a will or a trust. You might also receive your inheritance by intestacy when there is no will, in which case the laws of your state control who receives the property. If you believe that you are entitled to an inheritance, you should be proactive and seek it out, rather than waiting for a distribution of the property.


Step 1

Determine how the inheritance will pass to you. For example, if you have a copy of the will that names you as an heir, the will is the instrument by which the property will pass. However, if you believe you are entitled to an inheritance from a recently deceased individual, and you are not aware of a will or a trust, contact individuals close to the deceased to determine if an estate planning document exists.


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Step 2

Write to the administrator or executor of the estate in the case of a will, or the trustee in the case of a trust. State in your letter that you believe that you are a beneficiary of the deceased. This will put the administrator, executor or trustee on notice of your claim of inheritance.


Step 3

Travel to the probate court in the county where the deceased lived. Ask a deputy clerk for any records relating to a case involving the estate of the deceased. Pay any required records fee. Take note of any scheduled hearing dates in the case.

Step 4

Ask the deputy clerk for a claim notice form. Many courts provide a form which you must file with the court as notice of your claim to an inheritance. Fill out the claim notice form as indicated. File the form with the court as required. Attend the hearings to make sure that a distribution of property is made from the estate to you.



Step 5

Hire an attorney if you cannot find any cases pending for the deceased's estate or encounter difficulty in obtaining your inheritance. An attorney will be able to guide you in the right direction toward claiming your inheritance.


This article does not constitute legal advice. See an attorney.



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