A beneficiary is an individual or entity (an organisation, for example)that receives a gift or benefit from a deceased’s estate. A beneficiary will usually receive property, assets, cash or other entitlements in accordance with the terms of the Will.
What are the Rights of Beneficiaries?
All beneficiaries must be informed if the deceased has left behind a valid Will. Usually beneficiaries are notified of their entitlement by the executor (a person who the deceased has chosen to execute the terms of the Will).
The executor’s role is to carry out the wishes of the deceased and do what is specified in the Will. An executor stands in a fiduciary, or a relationship of trust between themselves and all the beneficiaries.
If you wish to, you may request the executor to send you a copy of the entire Will. They are obliged to send you the copy but you must be prepared to pay for the copy to be produced and sent to you (postage etc).
If there is an expected delay in the distribution of assets due to some reason (such as additional claims or liabilities that need to be taken into consideration), the executor is obliged to inform you of the time delay as well as the reason for it.
The executor is also responsible for advising you of the nature and particulars of any claim or proceedings against the estate or against the deceased or otherwise which affects their entitlement under the will.
At a more practical level, it is not unusual for beneficiaries to have particular wishes with respect to the funeral arrangements etc of the deceased. As a beneficiary, it is your right to consult the executor to find out if there are any specific funeral directions outlined in the deceased’s Will.
Sadly, it is not uncommon for beneficiaries to have concerns relating to the conduct of the executor. Should that be the case, then seeking prompt legal advice is highly recommended.