What are my rights as a beneficiary in the will?

Published 20 Oct 2017

The death of a loved one is an emotional time, which is why you may not be thinking about the administration of their estate.

However, if you are named as a beneficiary, you have certain rights and protections under NSW legislation that you should be aware of.

1. You must be informed about the will

Executors of the deceased’s estate must try to trace people included in the will and inform them that they are beneficiaries. You should also be told the nature and extent of your entitlements from the estate, as well as a timeline for when you can expect to receive your share.

2. You can request a copy of the will

An executor isn’t required to send beneficiaries copies of the will automatically. Instead, you must make a formal request if you wish to see the document in its entirety. There may be associated admin costs to pay, but you and other beneficiaries shouldn’t be discouraged from receiving a copy.

3. You are entitled to your share of the estate within one year

Executors should distribute the proceeds from a straightforward estate within 12 months of the deceased passing away. Delays can occur, but executors must inform beneficiaries when this happens and provide adequate reasons for the hold-up. You should also receive a revised timeline for when your entitlements will be distributed.

4. You must be told when the will is contested

According to figures published in the Australian, inheritance disputes have increased 52 per cent in NSW over the last decade. Even if you aren’t contesting the will yourself, your share of the estate could be affected if a claimant receives a settlement. Therefore, executors must inform beneficiaries when a dispute arises.

5. You can dispute the will yourself

Eligible people under the Succession Act 2006 can contest the deceased’s will, which could apply to you if you’re already a beneficiary. You may feel that you haven’t been adequately provided for from the estate, so you should contact an experienced contesting wills lawyer to see whether you should pursue a claim.

Gerard Malouf & Partners Will Dispute Lawyers has decades of experience dealing with family provision claims and other inheritance disputes, so please contact a member of our team to discuss your case.

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