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Rights of Beneficiaries in a Will

When considering the rights of beneficiaries in a will, it is important to know the basics. A Will is a legal document outlining the distribution of a person’s estate upon their death. To be valid, it must be signed and witnessed by two people who are not beneficiaries. Beneficiaries are individuals or entities designated to receive gifts, benefits, or shares of the deceased’s estate.

Rights of Beneficiaries

1. Right to Access the Will

Beneficiaries are entitled to see the Will and obtain a copy. They may also view previous Wills made by the deceased that are accessible to the executor. Beneficiaries have the right to be informed of the existence of a valid Will, their inclusion as beneficiaries, and the nature and extent of the estate.

2. Right to Proper Administration

The executor has a fiduciary duty to act in the best interest of the beneficiaries and must administer the estate impartially and promptly. Executors are responsible for timely estate administration, considering all relevant facts and issues.

3. Right to Estate Accounts

Beneficiaries can request estate accounts from the executor. These accounts should include:

  • Amounts collected into the estate.
  • Payments made from the estate.
  • Assets transferred in specie.
  • Distributions made from the estate.
  • Assets held by the executor on behalf of the estate.

Addressing Executor Misconduct

If the executor fails in their fiduciary duty, mismanages assets, or delays estate administration, beneficiaries can take legal action in the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Possible actions include:

  • Issuing a Notice to Apply for Probate: This requires the executor to apply for probate. If not complied with, beneficiaries can apply for a grant of Letters of Administration to administer the estate.
  • Revoking the Grant of Probate: Beneficiaries can apply to have the grant of probate revoked and the executor removed.
  • Filing Estate Accounts: Beneficiaries can demand that the executor file and pass estate accounts in court.
  • Claiming Damages: Beneficiaries may claim damages for significant losses caused by the executor’s actions.

Seek legal advice before initiating such claims. Premature or unreasonable proceedings may result in legal costs for both the estate and the claimant, and may delay estate distribution.

For concerns regarding the administration of a deceased estate or your rights as a beneficiary, contact Jake McKinley Lawyers for a consultation.

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