Most questions from beneficiaries concern their right to know whether or not they have been included in a will. Many people mistakenly believe that it is a legal requirement to have a “reading of a will” and that if they are a beneficiary, they will be invited to that.
There is no legal requirement to have a reading of the will. The executor of the estate has a legal duty to inform beneficiaries of the nature and extent of their entitlement under a will and beneficiaries are entitled to a copy of the will if they request one. If a person believes he or she may be a beneficiary under the will and have not been notified by the executor, they should write to the executor asking for confirmation of their status and if they are indeed a beneficiary, for a copy of the will. The executor should also tell the beneficiary approximately when they might expect to receive their entitlement from the estate.
Wills often contain clauses describing what should happen to the named beneficiaries share if he or she pre deceases the will maker. For example, in many situations the will might provide that the estate is to go to the will maker’s children in equal shares provided that if any of those children pre decease the will maker leaving children of their own, then the share that that child would have taken will be distributed equally amongst those children.
If you believe that you should have been named as the beneficiary and were not, or were named but did not receive a fair entitlement having regard to your relationship with the deceased, you should seek immediate legal assistance as strict time limits apply to the lodging of will disputes with the courts.