In some states, according to estate law, executors do not have to notify beneficiaries of wills. Find out when an executor must notify a beneficiary from an estate planning and probate lawyer in this free video on estate law.
If you're a beneficiary under a will, and you live in a state where the executor's required by law to notify you, then the executor--and the executor is kind of the chief administrative, chief executive officer, let's say, of this estate--is oftentimes required to send the beneficiaries a notice to tell them, hey, you're a beneficiary under this will, you may be entitled to some money. And I use the term maybe because, frankly, creditors get paid, taxes get paid, lawyers get paid, the executor gets paid, medical bills and funeral expenses get paid, before beneficiaries get paid. But getting a notice from an executor is a big deal, and you need to read it carefully and respond to it appropriately. You may not have to do anything. There may be certain things you do have to do. If you live in a state where the executor is not required to notify the beneficiaries, frankly you're not going to get a notice, and you're going to have to be very alert when you have a loved one pass away. If you think you're a beneficiary, then you may need to ask some questions, and ask to see a copy of the will. Don't be surprised if people don't think you're greedy. They may think you're being forward, they may think you're just causing trouble. If you have a situation like that, go get a lawyer and ask the lawyer to call the lawyer for the executor and get a copy of the will that way.