Rights Of Beneficiaries In A Will In Western Australia

December 26, 2023    Deceased Estate Lawyers Perth
Rights Of Beneficiaries In A Will In Western Australia

After a deceased has endowed a beneficiary with a will, it is important to assess the will’s clauses and determine the assets the beneficiary is entitled to. The rights of a beneficiary are determined by the clauses of the will as well as the laws of the state. This article elucidates the rights to which a beneficiary of any will is entitled and how they can be claimed.

Who is a Beneficiary?

A beneficiary is any individual or entity the author of a will, donor, or testator can legally designate to receive benefits, assets, or rights from them. This legal designation comes into force after the passing of the donor. They can be family members, close friends or any acquaintance of the deceased testator. The following are terminologies frequently associated with beneficiaries:

  1. A testator or donor is the owner or author of the will from whom the beneficiary is to receive benefits.
  2. An executor is the individual responsible for administering and distributing the benefits and assets of the beneficiary or beneficiaries after the testator’s death.
  3. A will is essentially a legal document or testament expressing the testator’s wishes regarding the distribution and administration of properties, financial benefits, assets, or care of minors to the people they legally designate with authority within the document.

The roles and rights of the beneficiary and the Executor are often conflated, resulting in disputes and conflict during administration and distribution. As a result, it is extremely important to know the legal rights of beneficiaries to avoid unnecessary disputes or contestations of their rights.

Can A Beneficiary See A Will Before The Passing Of The Testator?

A will is a confidential document. As a result, the beneficiary does not have the right to see the details and clauses of the will before the testator’s passing. This is also done to keep the donor’s safety and integrity intact. Even the testator’s family members do not have the right to view the will before their passing.

A will can only be visible or accessible to family and beneficiaries after becoming a public document. This can only happen after the testator’s passing, once a legal probate has been granted. Legal probate is a process in which the clauses of a will are reviewed. This involves provoking the clauses of the will before the court of law.

What Rights Can A Beneficiary Access?

One of the primary rights of the beneficiary of a will is their right to information about the clauses of the will. It is the Executor’s job to keep the various accounts of the will prepared and ready to render them when the beneficiary asks for them. Each state or territory has different laws outlining how the beneficiary can access this information. However, some of the standardized procedures and rights are listed as follows:

  1. After the testator’s passing, the beneficiary has the right to inquire if they have left behind a valid will.
  2. The beneficiary is well within their rights to ask about the extent and nature of the will and confirm if they have been legally designated as a nominee.
  3. The beneficiary can ask for a Statement of Distribution, which lets them know the extent of the share in the asset or property left behind. This statement includes the calculations and accounts that the Executor has made.
  4. The beneficiary can ask to be provided with a proper estimate of their share in the property.
  5. The beneficiary can ask for a date of allotment or an estimated time for them to begin receiving the designated benefits.
  6. The benefactor has the right to ask the Executor or anyone possessing the testator’s will to be provided with a copy.
  7. The beneficiary has the right to be informed- not only about the assets that they receive but also about potential liabilities. They must also be informed about the responsibilities attached to the assets and liabilities they must fulfill. This includes things like taxes and maintenance.
  8. In the case of delays in disseminating or distributing the property or assets, all nominated beneficiaries must compulsorily be informed of the same.
  9. The beneficiary must be informed of any legal procedures or litigations against or pending for the deceased.
  10. If the will is contested or challenged by a third party, the beneficiary must be informed of the same. The beneficiary is well within their rights to defend themselves in case of a contest.
  11. The beneficiary must be provided due diligence of the administration and management of the assets or estate.
  12. All beneficiaries have the right to receive their due benefits within twelve months of the legal probate being passed.

It is worth reentering that the rights mentioned above only come into force after the testator’s passing and not before. These rights are in place in case of proper execution of a will. However, there are laws to defend a beneficiary in case of any breaches of duty from the Executor.

What Are The Rights Of Beneficiaries In Case Of Breach Of Duties From The Executor?

In case of a breach of duties from the Executor, the beneficiary’s legal privileges can be enforced. T the following rights can protect the beneficiary:

  1. The beneficiary can apply to the court to report the breach of conduct and ask the Executor to be removed from their role.
  2. Any other individual with legally designated interest or rights of the estate can also apply to the registrar asking for the removal of the Executor.

Parting Words

Not being well-versed in the rights of beneficiaries can lead to unwanted disputes and delays in realizing the will. Additionally, there are various legal responsibilities following the realization of a will that the beneficiary must uphold. A will can also be challenging to navigate if the deceased is a family member or a loved one.

As a result, seeking legal help is imperative for not only claiming your rights but also making the process as smooth and uncomplicated as possible. Contact our team of the best will lawyers in western Australia to provide you with your entitled due diligence and assets.

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