Family Law Blog

What Are My Rights as a Beneficiary of an Estate?

What Are My Rights as a Beneficiary of an Estate?

If you are the Beneficiary of an estate, the Executor of that estate has certain legal obligations to you they must meet. The individual acting as Executor is your trustee, meaning they owe you a duty of good faith. In practice, you are entitled to full disclosure regarding matters relating to the estate, as well as honesty and fidelity.

As a Beneficiary, you should expect to receive the following:

Relevant Information

In their crucial role, an Executor is compelled to properly administer an estate in accordance with the terms of the will. Part of this brief is to provide Beneficiaries with all of the relevant information they need. Generally, this will include aspects such as the right to receive a copy of the will in a prompt manner, and the right to be informed about the assets within the estate. If you are the Beneficiary of a will and you don’t receive this information, you have recourse to demand it through the courts. Westside Family Law’s team of family lawyers can assist with this.

Timely Updates

Estates can often be complex, taking time to work through the intricacies and tying off loose ends. As a result, Beneficiaries can often be left waiting to receive their property. Unfortunately, this is a common issue with executing an estate and is unavoidable. With this in mind, the executor should keep any beneficiaries informed as to the nature of the delay and when they expect it to be resolved.

Fair Treatment

Many estates will have several Beneficiaries. The Executor of the estate must treat each Beneficiary in a fair and equitable manner. Often, a will grants a Beneficiary the right to deal with certain assets as they see fit. It’s up to the Executor to inform every Beneficiary of this arrangement. While some Beneficiaries may have cause to complain about their cut of the estate, as long as the Executor has acted in a fair and honest manner, they have acted correctly.

An Accounting of the Estate

When an estate is being administered, there are a lot of financial transactions to account for. Bills will sometimes need to be paid, the Executor may incur certain costs that need to be repaid, and certain expenses must be covered. Beneficiaries are entitled to a full accounting of these financial moves, and they will be asked to agree to the Executor’s accounting before their share is disbursed. If one of the Beneficiaries is not happy with the accounting, they have recourse to appeal through the courts for an audit.

Removal of the Executor

The final right of a Beneficiary is to request the removal of an executor. However, this is a right that requires a great deal of proof and is rarely acted upon. A court will only remove an Executor from their role if it determines the removal is justified. This means there will need to be a serious breach of the Executor’s obligations before a court will act upon it. It’s worth noting, an application to remove an executor is not without a risk. The court is free to find the legal costs relating to the application paid by the estate, the Beneficiary, or the Executor – depending on the circumstances.

Get in Touch

If you need help navigating any aspect of the estate process, get in touch with us today. Our lawyers are ready to assist you with any questions and concerns you may have regarding this and other family law matters.