10 Things You Should Be Aware of As a Beneficiary of a Will

Very often, the beneficiary of a Will is uninformed about the process of receiving their inheritance.

We even stumble upon cases where the person isn’t aware that they are a  beneficiary.

Executing a Will can be tricky, especially if there are several beneficiaries or property involved. There are also several factors which affect the distribution of assets.

Below are a few things every beneficiary should be aware of.

1. How To Know If You Are A Beneficiary Of A Will

Usually, the executor of the Will is responsible for contacting the beneficiary of an estate. 

An executor is a person charged with the legal authority of administering the finances and property of a deceased person, and ensuring that the written instructions are carried out. 

Once the maker of the Will dies, the executor will apply for probate to allow the Will to become a public document. This enables the beneficiary to have a copy so they can know about the contents of the Will.

In other cases, the executor might instruct the solicitor to contact the beneficiary and let them know about the contents of the Will.

Remember, some people even choose to make a Last Will & Testament at home using the services of trustworthy online services like ELM Legal Services. In this case, you may get a digital copy of the Will.

In cases where the executor refuses to give the beneficiary a copy of the Will, the beneficiary can apply to the court to order the executor to make the Will public.

If your loved one has died and you haven’t been notified of a Will, it might be worth reaching out to your family, friends or local solicitor practices, to check whether they know of a Will. 

2. There Are Different Types Of Beneficiaries

When more than one beneficiary is mentioned in the Will, the distribution of assets is done according to the preference given by the deceased.

A primary beneficiary will be the person who is first in line to receive the assets of the deceased. In many cases, the maker of the Will can allot 100% of their assets to the primary beneficiary.

In cases where the primary beneficiary has passed away, the contingent beneficiary receives the benefits. However, there might be certain criteria that a contingent beneficiary must meet before he receives the assets.

There is also the residual beneficiary, the person who receives a percentage of the assets after all the debts and liabilities have been paid. 

3. What Happens If A Loved One Dies Without A Will

If a close family member or a loved one dies without making a Will, their assets are divided according to the laws of intestacy, laid down by the state.

In this case, your loved one’s estate may not be divided according to their wishes. Several factors like the number of children, marital status, and existing debts and liabilities will play a role in determining how the assets are divided.

Some of the most common outcomes are given below.

  • The spouse of the deceased will usually receive one-third of the assets. The rest will be divided among the children. If there are no children, the parents of the deceased will receive the assets.
  • For unmarried people, the assets will be given to their parents.
  • If the deceased has no spouse but has children, all the assets will be given to them.

4. Documents Required To Claim Your Inheritance

Before a beneficiary receives the inheritance of the deceased, there are certain documents which they must present. 

These typically include the death certificate of the deceased person, driver’s licence, passport, claim application and probate of Will.

If there is no written Will, you will be required to produce a succession certificate from the court to prove that you are a valid legal heir.

5. Beneficiaries May Not Receive Their Inheritance Right Away

It is not uncommon for delays to occur in allotting the inheritance to the specified beneficiaries.

Specific beneficiaries will receive their inheritance sooner than general and residual beneficiaries.

The delay in the process might be due to factors like missing assets, disagreements in the administration of the estate or missing property title deeds.

6. Beneficiaries Can Be Removed From A Will

As long as the maker of the Will is alive, they can remove or add beneficiaries to the Will.

After the person dies, no changes can be made regarding beneficiaries in the Will.

7. Beneficiaries Don’t Have To Pay Anything To Receive The Inheritance

Beneficiaries don’t have to pay any special fees or inheritance tax. 

This is because all the necessary funds like funeral expenses, inheritance tax and executor fees are paid first before the assets are distributed.

8. Beneficiaries Can Make Changes To The Will

A beneficiary can change a person’s Will after their death as long as the other beneficiaries agree to the specified changes.

For example, in cases where someone doesn’t want their inheritance or a certain child of the deceased has been left out of the Will, changes can be made provided everyone agrees.

9. A Will Can Take A Long Time To Execute

Depending upon the probate process, a Will can take around 12-20 months to execute.

Family disputes and disagreements can make the process even longer. If the Will was not professionally drafted, it may even be challenged in court.

10. A Beneficiary Can Receive Interest On Gifts Of Money

In certain cases, when the specified amount of money laid out in the Will isn’t paid within a period like one year, the beneficiary can claim interest. 

Conclusion

If you are aware of the above things as a beneficiary, you will have better knowledge of your rights and the execution process will seem less complicated. You can always seek legal advice if you are unsure of your rights to inheritance.

Huynh Nguyen

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