Beneficiaries of Will are those who are entitled to receive a portion of the estate, or some specific gifts from the estate. Beneficiaries of Will are generally the loved ones of the deceased such as family members of the deceased, or close friends of the deceased.
Beneficiaries of Will can also be some NGOs and charitable organisations if the deceased wished to leave behind some donations for organisations whose values align with their own values.
Among the various distributions and portions of the estate, a beneficiary may receive either assets, monetary gifts, or sentimental heirlooms. Broadly speaking, there are two types of beneficiaries of Will.
Specific beneficiaries are those who hold interest in specific assets of the estate such as a house, or a car. On the other hand, residuary beneficiaries are those who receive the rest of the estate once all other allotments have been made, and all debts have been paid out.
Why Are Beneficiaries Of Will Important?
When a person dies without a valid Will in place, they are said to die intestate. The administration of estate when someone dies intestate is decided by the law. However, an application for Grant of Letters will need to be made by next of kin of the deceased.
When a person does not detail their wishes and intentions on how their estate is to be distributed, there are high chances of conflicts occurring following the death of the person. Beneficiaries of Will are important because nominating beneficiaries clearly in your Will greatly reduces the chances of disputes occurring in the future.
Furthermore, if no beneficiaries are outlined in the Will, it can also lead to a lot of misinterpretation causing further disputes and delays in the legal system.
Do They Have Any Rights?
Each state legislation outlines certain rights in relation to beneficiaries. For instance, in NSW the Succession Act (2006) lists some legal rights which beneficiaries of Wills are entitled to. These rights are as follows:
- The right to be informed whether or not the deceased has left a legally valid Will in place.
- The right to be informed if they have been listed as a beneficiary.
- The right to be informed about the nature and extent of the deceased person’s estate.
- If the beneficiary requests for a copy of the Will, he/she has the right to receive the copy from the executor or any other person who can provide the beneficiary with a copy.
- The right to receive details on what their expected share can look like. They also have the right to know details about when the allotment is supposed to take place.
- The right to be informed by executors about the administration of estate.
- The right to be informed by the executors if there are any anticipated delays in the distribution of the estate.
- The right to be informed about potential challenges or contests to the Will – especially if this affects their portion of the estate.
- The right to be informed about any liabilities (such as taxes) attached to their portion of the estate.
- The right to be informed about any ongoing legal proceedings against the deceased.
- The right to receive a share of the estate within 12 months from the date of death of the deceased.
- The right to receive a Statement of Distribution which provides information about the beneficiaries’ share of the estate including how executors calculated that information.
Beneficiaries Of Will: Contesting Or Challenging The Wills
Often, some might feel that they have not been provided for in the Will adequately. In that instance, they can contest the Will. To contest a Will, they have to file a family provision claim. If the claim is successful, the Will and distribution of deceased estate can be altered by the Court.
On the other hand, challenging a Will relates to questioning the validity of the Will. This usually happens if it is believed that the testator lacked mental capacity or testamentary capacity.
Another reason why a Will is challenged is if people believe that the Will-maker was acting based on undue influence. Additionally, reasons like forgery and fraud may also contribute to a Will being challenged.
According to Section 18 of the Succession Act (2006) if the Court finds that the Will-maker lacked mental capacity while preparing the Will, the court can set aside the Will.
Can A Beneficiary Also Be An Executor?
Commonly, the executors of a Will are close friends or family members of the deceased person. Therefore it is possible for the executor to also be a beneficiary of a Will.
Notably, in case a person has both roles, as an executor they will have added rights, and also responsibilities. For instance, the following are few key responsibilities of the executor:
- identifying the estates of the deceased;
- making funeral arrangements for the deceased (as per the wishes of the deceased);
- applying for grant of probate;
- discharging any liabilities;
Importance Of Seeking Legal Advice
Beneficiaries of Will must receive all appropriate information regarding their rights and responsibilities. It is advisable to speak with lawyers who can help you understand all complex information related to Wills and estate planning.
In case you wish to contest or challenge a Will, it is beneficial to seek the help of expert solicitors. At JB Solicitors, our experienced Wills and estate planning solicitors have a wealth of knowledge to tackle all issues which beneficiaries and/or executors may face.
Be it in matters regarding disputed Wills, family provision claims, or simply to gain more information regarding Wills and probates, our lawyers are here to help you through every step of the way.
At JBS, we offer fixed-fee pricing for Wills and estate planning to give our clients a clear sense of all the costs right from the start. We value transparency and aim to maintain transparency throughout all our legal procedures to ensure that our clients’ get the best possible experience.
If you have any queries, do not hesitate to contact our friendly and experienced team of Wills and estate planning lawyers.
Get in touch with JB Solicitors today.