Beneficiaries - What Rights Do They Have When it Comes to a Will?

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  • Helen Claydon

Beneficiaries - What Rights Do They Have When it Comes to a Will?

The probate process can be complex and detailed, especially for a beneficiary who

is not actively involved in the administration of the estate. They will often not have full

information about anything outside of their own inheritance and this can lead to some

confusion and frustration.

An executor has the right to all information that relates to the estate. While it is seen

to be good practice for executors to share updates at certain times during the

process, there is no legal requirement for them to do this. The beneficiaries

themselves do not have any right to see the Will prior to the Grant of Probate being

obtained. Up until this point the Will is a confidential document.

Beneficiaries will be provided with information that informs them of what they are

entitled to. Near the end of the process, the preparation of estate accounts will take

place and these will be given to any residuary beneficiary. A recipient of a specific gift

or cash amount is not entitled to see the estate accounts unless the deceased’s

debts mean that there are insufficient funds to pay the gift. Accounts contain details

of the assets and all liabilities that have been paid from the estate along with all other

deductions like legal fees and costs of administration before setting out what the

beneficiary is entitled to.

It is worth noting that there is no timeframe on when beneficiaries will receive their

entitlement. Debts must all be paid prior to any distribution of funds and large assets

such as property may need to be sold. An executor does not have to distribute the

Will until one year has passed since the individual passed away however this could

actually take much longer. They should certainly not make distributions any earlier

than 6 months after the Grant of Probate has been issued as this is the timeframe for

any claim being brought against the estate. On average, it can take up to two years

for the estate to be completely administered.

It is common for beneficiaries to have concerns over the way in which the executor is

dealing with the estate as they do not, themselves, have full information about the

estate. Even an estate that seems relatively straightforward must be dealt with

correctly and only distributed after all debts and claims have been identified and

dealt with.


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