If you have been appointed as the beneficiary of a Will, it’s important that you are fully aware of your rights. This becomes particularly important if you do not feel adequately provided for and are considering lodging a Will Dispute.
At Hentys Lawyers, we specialise in Will Disputes. We’re here to ensure you know your rights so that you are aware of all your options depending on your unique situation. We pride ourselves on our ability to explain circumstances to our clients in plain language so that they are fully aware of what is going on at each stage of the Will Dispute process. We will ensure that you not only know your rights, but that they are being adhered to at all times.
The following provides a basic understanding of your rights as the beneficiary of a Will.
Did the Deceased Leave a Will
All beneficiaries must be informed as to whether or not a valid Will was left by the deceased.
Entitlements to See the Will
The Executor of the will is not legally obliged to notify all beneficiaries of the entire contents of the will. Legally, the Executor must only inform each beneficiary of the nature and extent of their own entitlement from the Estate under the Will.
If you would like to see the entire Will, you have to submit a formal request to the Executor who is then obliged to acknowledge the request and organise for a copy of the will to be sent to you. It’s important to note however that as the beneficiary of the Will, you may be liable to pay for any expenses incurred by the Executor in producing and sending the document.
Liabilities of the Will
In some cases, a liability will be attached to an entitlement such as tax payments and other costs. Under these circumstances, the Executor of the Will must notify the beneficiary of these liabilities.
Timing of the Distribution of Assets
The Executor of the Will should inform the beneficiaries of when they are likely to receive their portion of the Estate. They must also tell the beneficiary if there is going to be a delay in the distribution of Estate assets and provide a reason as to why that delay has occurred.
As the beneficiary of a Will, you are entitled to know if any legal proceedings or claims have been brought against the Estate that may affect your entitlement. This includes Will Contests, Will Challenges and Family Provision Claims. Furthermore the beneficiary should be made aware of any legal proceedings or claims against the Deceased, at the date of their death, which are set to continue despite the deceased’s death.
Funeral Arrangements & Expenses
As the beneficiary of a Will, you may have certain wishes relating to the funeral plans of the deceased. You have the right to consult the Executor of the Will to find out if any specific funeral directions have been specified in the Will. In the event that there are no plans for funeral arrangements laid out in the Will, it is the duty of the Executor to inform the beneficiaries of the arrangements that they will be making for the funeral.
You do not have any rights to alter the funeral arrangements but you may make any requests that you have to the Executor. It’s important to remember that the Executor is under no obligation to fulfil these requests. You should also note that funeral expenses will be paid before any beneficiary receives their entitlement.
Administration of Entitlement
As a beneficiary, you should receive a ‘Statement of Distribution’ from the Executor. The Statement of Distribution should sets out exactly how your distribution was calculated.
If you have any questions regarding your rights as the beneficiary of a Will, or to find out more information, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Will Disputes team at Hentys Lawyers.