Q: Do beneficiaries of a will need legal representation? Is there a time limit a beneficiary has to respond to a will..?
For a beneficiary in a will who has no contact with those involved w/ the will, i.e. other beneficiaries, blood relatives of the person who the will is for, would an attorney be able to help with the process? It is not possible for me to be in contact w/ individuals involved due to abuse and harassment concerns. I am a participant in the Address Confidentiality Program for victims of crime through my state's Attorney General's office due to concerns. I have 'disowned' blood relatives on paper, & not had contact for many years. Though technically blood relatives, there is no relation and needs to remain so, this is not 'family'. Is there a limit on time I have to respond to a will that has been executed/been through probate court? I believe an attorney may be executing the will, but am not certain. Note, I am in Lawrence, KS. The person who the will is for was a resident of Massachusetts, though who lived temporarily in Kansas prior to passing. Any advice is much appreciated. Thank you.
A: Whether the estate would be probated in Kansas or Massachusetts would be a threshold question that would need to be answered with the assistance of counsel. The appropriate jurisdiction for probate of the will would be based upon several different factors. If Massachusetts is the appropriate jurisdiction, your questions would be more appropriately directed to a Massachusetts' attorney.
If Kansas is the appropriate jurisdiction, a will must be filed with the court within six months of the date of death. Once filed, all of the heirs at law and named beneficiaries of the will must be notified. A hearing date is set approximately three weeks to one month after the case is filed. A beneficary of a will should consult counsel if there are questions. An attorney could probably represent a client without disclosing location information. It would be good practice for the attorney to communicate with the court and opposing counsel the special circumstances that would make disclosure of residence problematic. Ultimately, if a party's residence needs to be kept secret, a protective order would be ideal.
If a named beneficiary does not not dispute the provisions of the will, it may not be necessary to have representation unless there is concern about how the executor is performing his or her duty. You should consult with counsel to determine the course of action that best fits your circumstances.
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