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The Rights of a Beneficiary

What are your rights as a beneficiary of a Will in NSW?

1. Being informed about the Will

All beneficiaries must be informed whether or not the deceased left a valid Will.

2. Reading of the Will

It is not a legal requirement for the Executor to invite all beneficiaries to read the entire Will. The Executor only has a duty to inform each beneficiary of the nature and extent of their entitlement from the Estate under the Will. This includes when the beneficiaries might expect to receive their entitlement.

3. Receiving a copy of the Will

The beneficiary of a Will is only entitled to receive a copy of the Will in its entirety if they make a formal request to the Executor to do so. The Executor must then acknowledge the request and send the beneficiary a copy of the Will. The beneficiary may be liable for any expenses related to producing and sending the copy.

4. Notified about liabilities

If there is a liability that attaches to the entitlement of a beneficiary, including tax and costs as a result of being a beneficiary, the Executor must notify the beneficiary of these liabilities.

5. Delay in distribution

The Executor must inform the beneficiary if there is going to be a delay in the distribution of assets from the Estate, and provide reasoning for the delay.

6. Legal proceedings against the Estate

If there are any legal proceedings or claims against the Estate (Contesting a Will - Challenging a Will - Family Provision Claims - Disputing a Will) which may affect the entitlement of any beneficiary, the Executor must make these beneficiaries aware of the claims.

7. Legal proceedings against the deceased

If there are any legal proceedings or claims against the deceased, at the date of death, which are set to continue despite the deceased's death, the Executor must inform the beneficiaries of these proceedings.

8. Receiving your entitlement

It is the right of all beneficiaries of a deceased estate located in NSW to receive their entitlement under the Will within 12 months of the deceased's death (plus any interest as prescribed by the Court, if paid outside this 12 month period). However, the Will  can allow the Executor to delay the distribution of assets. If this occurs, the Executor must inform beneficiaries of any delay and provide a new revised expected date of receiving the entitlement.

9. Receiving a 'Statement of Distribution'

Each beneficiary must receive a 'Statement of Distribution' from the Executor which sets out exactly how their distribution was calculated.

10. Legal costs

Beneficiaries in a Will are not entitled to have their legal costs related to the Estate paid by the Estate, unless this is ordered by the Court.

Adrian Corbould

Adrian Corbould is a Law Society Accredited Specialist in Wills & Estates Law. For more than 15 years he has helped hundreds of clients in contested estate matters. His tenacity and experience make him one of the most sought after Will Contest Lawyers in New South Wales (NSW).

Adrian is an Accredited Specialist within the Contested Wills & Estates Team. In certain circumstances, the team operates on a 'No Win, No Fee' basis. If you'd like to discuss your circumstances with a member of the team, call us and ask for a Free Appraisal.


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