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What rights does a beneficiary of a Will have?

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The probate process can seem complex and confusing especially if you are a beneficiary and do not have all of the information to hand about the probate process. The rights to all the estate information are assigned to the executor. Although it is considered good practice for executors to provide updates at set intervals, there is no legal obligation to do so. You also do not have the right to see the Will until the Grant of Probate is obtained as until this time the Will is a confidential document.

All beneficiaries are normally informed of their entitlement at this time and will be provided with a copy of the Will. Towards the end of the process estate accounts will be prepared which will again be provided to the beneficiaries. These accounts show the assets, any liabilities paid, any other deductions made and then set out the beneficiary’s entitlement.

Only after the Grant of Probate has been issued (which allows the executors to start to administer the estate) do they need to keep accounts that you then have a right to see if you request to.

There is no absolute in terms of when beneficiaries will receive their entitlement. Debts must be paid off first and sometimes in the case of large assets such as a family home the asset may need to be sold and split with different beneficiaries, which can take some time. An executor does not have a legal obligation to distribute the Will until 1 year has passed from your loved one passing away. They are able to have a longer timeframe if there is a good reason for a delay such as a delay in sale to achieve market value. For the estate to be fully administered it typically takes between 1- 2 years.

Sometimes beneficiaries have concerns over the conduct of the executor and may question if they are acting in good faith, particularly if the executors are also beneficiaries themselves. Examples, of where they may not be acting in good faith could include for example trying to sell a property under market value, attempting to pay beneficiaries before debtors, not providing requested information etc. We can assist in a number of ways if you do have concerns about the conduct of an executor.

Our Wills and probate solicitors have a wealth of experience in advising beneficiaries concerning all sorts of issues. If you would like to discuss how we could assist you please call us today on 0161 696 6229 or complete our online enquiry form and a member of the team will contact you to discuss your requirements.

Our legal experts can also assist with related areas including making a Will or Lasting Power of Attorney.