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When a person has named specific people in their will to inherit from their estate, these people are referred to as beneficiaries of the estate. If you have potentially been named as a beneficiary of the estate of a loved one, you may be wondering when you will be notified of this fact. The answer is complicated and will depend on a number of factors.

Who is responsible for contacting beneficiaries? 

If you have been named as a beneficiary in a will, you will normally be contacted by the executor. Alternatively, you may be contacted by a solicitor instructed by the executor to assist them with the probate process. 

When will I be notified if I am a beneficiary? 

Executors should notify beneficiaries as early as possible, but this may be affected by several matters, for example, if there are questions about the validity of the will. The executor may also face challenges in finding a beneficiary or getting in contact with them which may delay notification. 

Am I entitled to see the will? 

Estate administration can very generally be divided into two stages - before the grant of confirmation, and after the grant of confirmation. Confirmation is a legal document that gives executors power to in-gather all of the assets which make up the deceased’s estate.

Before confirmation is granted by the Court, it is only the executors who are legally entitled to see the will. However, it is generally considered good practice for the executor to allow any residual beneficiaries to see the will at an early stage. 

A residuary beneficiary is a person who is entitled to a share of the estate, as opposed to just a specific item or sum of money. Residuary beneficiaries are also entitled to the estate accounts, which will be prepared by the executor. 

Children, spouses and civil partners are not legally entitled to see a copy of the will before confirmation, but the executor must inform them of what has been left to them in the will, so that they can decide whether they wish to claim legal rights. 

How can I find out if I’m a beneficiary of the will? 

Once the executor of the will has applied for Confirmation, the will then becomes a public document.  You can get a copy of the will to check if you are a beneficiary of the estate.

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