Beneficiary Protection is a term used when acting for a beneficiary of an estate to protect his or her interest in the estate. 

Firstly, it is important to note that executors have a fiduciary obligation to beneficiaries. This means that an executor is placed in a position of trust and has a legal obligation to act in the best interests of the estate. 

However, some circumstances may give reason to a beneficiary not to trust the executor and in turn, seek information in relation to his or her rights. 

Ultimately, the entitlement that a beneficiary receives in a Will determines the extent of that beneficiary’s rights, however, in general beneficiaries have the following rights: 

  1. Be informed whether the deceased left a valid Will and that they are a beneficiary of that Will; 
  2. Receive a copy of the deceased person’s Will at the request of the beneficiary; 
  3. Be informed as to the extent of the estate assets and liabilities; 
  4. Be informed as to when they may expect to receive their entitlement; 
  5. Obtain reasonable updates during the administration of the estate; 
  6. Be notified of any claims including family provision, Will challenges or any other legal proceedings made against the estate; 
  7. Receive their entitlement within 12 months of the deceased’s date of death (unless the Will includes terms that do not allow this); 
  8. Receive a distribution statement (note this generally applies to residuary beneficiaries and does not apply if a beneficiary receives a specific sum of money or item). 

    So, why do you need Beneficiary Protection?  

    Here is a list of some reasons why a beneficiary may seek his own legal representation: 

    1. The executor is not administering the estate correctly and he or she is not acting in the estate’s best interest;
    2. The executor is not communicating with the beneficiary;
    3. The executor is putting his or her personal interest before the interest of the beneficiary;
    4. There has been unreasonable delay concerning the administration of the estate;
    5. It has been more than 12 months and the beneficiary has not received his or her entitlement;
    6. The beneficiary has not been provided with a copy of the Will and/or details of the estate assets and liabilities;
    7. The beneficiary feels that he or she is kept in the dark;
    8. The executor is not preserving and maximising the estate;
    9. The executor is attempting to purchase an estate asset under market value;
    10. The executor has failed to account for all estate assets. 

    Please note the above list is only a few of the reasons why a beneficiary may require beneficiary protection.  


    What should you do if you think you need Beneficiary Protection? 

    Ensure you obtain advice from an experienced Wills and Estates Lawyer as soon as possible to understand your rights. 

    At August & Claire Lawyers, we specialise in Estate Disputes and we will provide you with an initial free consultation so you know where you stand and can make an informed decision as to the next steps.  

    Reach out to our experienced team members on (02) 4944 2008 or send an email to admin@augustandclaire.com.au