When a person passes away, the people named as beneficiaries have various rights when it comes to the administration of how the deceased’s estate is distributed and how any trusts are being administered.
As a beneficiary under a will, you only have a legal right over the share of the inheritance only when it has been divided, however, you are able to obtain information on the administration of the estate before you obtain your legal right.
The executor or administrator of an estate, who is in charge of administering the estate according to the will or by the rules of intestacy. They are no obligation share all the information with a beneficiary, but it is good practice for them to be as open as possible.
There is the obligation though for the person administering the estate to keep accounts of the estate and have them available for beneficiaries to see when asked, this ensures that they are keeping to their duties. If a beneficiary feels that the estate is not being administered correctly or it is being mismanaged, they have the right to take formal action.
A beneficiary only has the legal right to view a will after the Grant of Representation has been issued as this is when the will becomes a public document. Most administrators will allow a beneficiary to see the will as soon it is known who is a beneficiary under the will.
The most common issues that beneficiaries face against those administering the estate are:
- Delays in obtaining the Grant of Representation or in administering the estate once it has been obtained
- Information about the process not being made available, including not disclosing the accounts the administrator is obliged to keep.
- The administrators being dishonest or selling property either at undervalue or to themselves.
If a beneficiary thinks that the person administering the estate is not meeting their obligations, they can do things like requesting to view the accounts and what the estate comprises of, or even apply to remove the person from their position. If the administrator has breached their duties, a claim can also be made to hold them personally accountable for any financial loss.
If a beneficiary does suspect that a person administering the estate is either not meeting or are breaching their duties, their best option is to take professional advice on how to approach the situation and as to what steps they may take to relieve the situation.