What happens if you are a beneficiary of an estate?

UPDATED: Oct 4, 2011

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What happens if you are a beneficiary of an estate?

My sister was killed in auto accident. She had no child, husband or Will. I received paperwork filed with my name listed as beneficiary. What does it mean?

Asked on October 4, 2011 under Estate Planning, Iowa


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  If you sister died so suddenly then she may not have had a Will.  That is said to have died "intestate" and there are what are known as "intestacy laws" in each state which will decide how her estate is to be divided.  If you received paperwork as a beneficiary of the estate then I am assuming that her parents are also deceased.  Then under the intestacy statutes in Iowa you as her sibling will receive a portion of her estate.  Please bring the paperwork to an attorney to review on your behalf.  Do not sign anything with out legal counsel.  Good luck.

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