Matthew S. Payne is a Chicago-based attorney with a 20-year record of success in civil litigation, real estate law and estate planning.

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When are beneficiaries informed about a will?

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2021 | Estate Planning

There is a formal procedure for every step of estate planning. At some point, the beneficiaries have to be formally notified when a will is ready. This does not occur automatically after a person dies. In Illinois, a beneficiary must learn what to look out for and take steps toward benefiting from the will.

Notifications sent to beneficiaries

After an estate owner’s death, the beneficiaries of a will must be informed of when it will be distributed. A notification is made after the will is accepted for probate review.

Most wills are required to be reviewed in probate court. This is to ensure that the will is valid and accurate before being distributed to the heirs. Probate is recommended for estates that are complex or if the heirs are openly argumentative.

When probate is avoided

If the will does not undergo probate, the court is not required to notify the will’s beneficiaries. It’s rare for courts not to make a notification; however, the terms stated in the will take precedence over the court’s decision.

Once the probate is complete and the will is proven valid, any person can view the document at the courthouse. The will becomes a public record and is free to view by every beneficiary.

Knowing when to tell the beneficiaries

A will is valid only when the probate court says it is. After it goes through probate, the will becomes a public record, and the beneficiaries are informed of its new status. Every decedent’s estate receives specific instructions on how it must be reviewed, validated, and distributed to its heirs.