An estate comprises all the assets a person owns at his or her death, less any liabilities. An estate can include money, property, stocks and shares. Through a will, an estate owner establishes who will benefit from his or her estate upon death. Individuals who benefit from a person’s estate are called estate beneficiaries.
Rights of an estate beneficiary
As an estate beneficiary, you are entitled to certain rights, as follows:
The right to be notified that you stand to inherit from an estate
Estate beneficiaries have a right to receive the property bequeathed to them. Executors, the individuals responsible for administering an estate, are required to notify beneficiaries within a reasonable time that they have inherited from an estate.
The right to be apprised of the inheritance value
Estate beneficiaries also have the right to be informed of the value of their inheritance. However, before a beneficiary is issued his or her portion of an estate, the will must be probated. Upon probate of the will, the value of the inheritance may be affected by any liabilities on the estate. Depending on the amount of liability, a beneficiary may lose part or all of his or her inheritance.
The right to be apprised of proceedings of administration
Beneficiaries have the right to be apprised of what is happening in the administration of the estate. For instance, whether there are issues that might delay settling the estate.
The right to receive your inheritance promptly
As a beneficiary, you have a right to the timely receipt of your inheritance. Legally, executors are allowed one year within which to settle an estate and transfer assets to beneficiaries. After that, a beneficiary can compel an executor to settle the estate or petition the court to remove the executor. You must note, however, that the process to settle an estate is a lengthy one. Depending on the complexity of the estate, the process can sometimes take more than the allotted year.
The right to access the estate’s accounting details
Beneficiaries have the right to an accurate, detailed account of the estate’s activities, including incomes, expenditures and disbursements, in a reasonable time frame. A beneficiary can resort to the courts if he or she is in disagreement with the accounting by the executor.
The right to an executor who acts in the beneficiary’s best interest
Beneficiaries have the right to have an executor act in their best interest. If a beneficiary is unhappy with how an executor handles the administration of an estate, he or she can petition the courts to have the executor removed and a new one appointed. The removal of an executor must be justified. Justifiable circumstances include:
- Breach of fiduciary duty
- Estate theft
- Failure to manage the estate
Do you require the services of a wills and estates lawyer in Richmond?
If you are an estate beneficiary and require the services of a wills and estates lawyer, contact us at Bernard Lau and Co. Law Corporation. Our experienced Richmond wills and estates lawyer is available to provide legal advice on any issue concerning your case.
Call us today to schedule a consultation.