As a Trusts and Estates lawyer in New York, I receive many inquiries from individuals who are concerned about recovering and protecting their estate inheritances. The administration aspect of an estate generally can be in one of two forms. There is a probate estate where a decedent dies leaving a Last Will and Testament. When there is no Will, the estate is the subject of an intestate administration. The New York Probate Lawyer Blog has published many articles discussing probate and intestacy matters.
When a person believes that a decedent named him as a beneficiary on an account such as a pay on death account or as a designated beneficiary of an asset such as life insurance, the beneficiary should contact the financial institution directly to obtain all details. Typically, the beneficiary needs to present a death certificate and complete an appropriate death benefit application or withdrawal form. These papers can be obtained and submitted directly to the bank, insurance company or other institution to claim the inheritance. There is no need to contact the estate executor or administrator since these types of assets pass outside of the probate or intestate estate.
In some instances, there may be disputes as to whether a proper beneficiary designation form was prepared or filed by a decedent. These matters may need to be resolved through estate litigation.