Overview

Determining and identifying all eligible Beneficiaries is a critical step to understand who the final distribution will likely be made to. Once you have identified each Beneficiary managing each stakeholder and working through the remainder of the process will be clearer and simpler. Working through this Step will allow you to:
  • identify and agree who the likely Beneficiaries of the estate are;
  • understand if any of the Beneficiaries were financially dependent on the deceased person;
  • identify any issues or possible areas of dispute between Beneficiaries; and
  • provide confidence to the Beneficiaries that you as the Executor or Administrator will act in the best interest of the deceased, as per their Will and as per the various Acts as explained below.

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13.1 Determine Beneficiaries with a Will (Testate)

If the deceased left behind a valid Will, which clearly outlines all Beneficiaries you should
  • find out their relationship to the deceased;
  • find out their contact details;
  • reach out to inform them of the death if not already done and that you are the Executor as per the Will or as agreed with the other Executors (see Step 5.6 – Will with multiple Executors) or renouncing Executorship (see Step 5.7 – Resign as Executor or Administrator);
  • organise a meeting with all Beneficiaries to discuss the Will;
  • inform the Beneficiaries of the other Beneficiaries; and
  • inform the Beneficiaries about your plan and setting expectations about time-frames.

You can download the simplyEstate Beneficiary Inheritance Guide to help inform Beneficiaries of the work you are doing as the Executor to successfully administer the deceased estate. You want to secure their support and cooperation as early as possible.

You may also need to find out if there were other relatives that were left out of the Will as they may still have a right to claim from the estate. See Step 13.4 below for more details.

13.2 Determine Beneficiaries with Multiple Wills

There may be instances where multiple Wills or multiple versions of Wills are presented. It will be crucial to determine which of the Wills is the one with the latest date and is valid. Where a testator (deceased person who made the Will) has multiple Wills with different Executors and/or Beneficiaries listed, this may lead to a dispute and possible claim by an Executor and/or Beneficiary that was left off a later Will.

If this is the case, you may want to seek help by an experienced estate lawyer to understand your options before notifying the Beneficiaries. It helps to ask for specific support to ensure you are aware of the legalities and options. This will allow you to be a well-informed Executor that anticipates possible disputes and can stay in control of the situation.

To keep things simple, simplyEstate has partnered with Trusted Partners across Australia in your State/Territory as listed in the yellow section to the right or below.

13.3 Determine Beneficiaries’ Inheritance Without a Will (Intestate)

Where the deceased died intestate (without a Will), the Relevant Legislation in each State/Territory will determine who the Beneficiaries are and how much inheritance from the estate they may be eligible to.

If this is the case, it is strongly recommended that you seek legal advice to understand all laws that apply to your situation before notifying the Beneficiaries. Asking for experienced support ensures you are aware of all legalities and what to look out for. This will allow you to be a well-informed Administrator that anticipates possible disputes and can stay in control of the situation.

simplyEstate has partnered with Trusted Partners across Australia in your State/Territory.

Where no Will is available or was not valid, the intestate rules as outlined for each relevant State/Territory will help you get a rough understanding who may be an eligible Beneficiary for inheritance.

Intestate Beneficiary Assessment Tool

The following Intestate Beneficiary Assessment Tool will give a general indication about which Beneficiaries may be eligible and how the estate may be distributed as inheritance. Simply answer a few questions and email your result by completing your details below and clicking send.

New South Wales (NSW) change State

Questions:

Please note this is only a guide and is not legal advice as per our Terms & Conditions, which is available here.

Relevant Legislation – Intestacy Rules

SUCCESSION ACT 2006 (NSW) Sections 101 – 140 (Austl.) (accessed 1/1/2021)

Victoria (VIC) change State

Questions:

Please note this is only a guide and is not legal advice as per our Terms & Conditions, which is available here.

Relevant Legislation – Intestacy Rules

ADMINISTRATION AND PROBATE ACT 1958 (VIC) Sections 70A – 70ZL (Austl.) (accessed 1/1/2021)

Queensland (QLD) change State

Questions:

Please note this is only a guide and is not legal advice as per our Terms & Conditions, which is available here.

Relevant Legislation – Intestacy Rules

SUCCESSION ACT 1981 (QLD) Sections 34 – 39D (Austl.) (accessed 1/1/2021)

13.4 Find all Beneficiaries

It is important to make sure you have identified all eligible Beneficiaries early on, as you will need to understand who to communicate with throughout the process and work with them on some decisions and other administration aspects.

Some situations in which you may require you to look further than the immediate family or beyond the Will are:
  • The deceased may have had multiple relationships (married or de-facto) who were previously named in a Will and later removed;
  • The deceased may have a maintenance agreement in place; or
  • The deceased may have also had children with other spouses or partners or children that are unknown to the family.
New South Wales (NSW) change State
Under the SUCCESSION ACT 2006 (NSW) Section 57 (Austl.) (accessed 1/1/2021), the following persons are eligible Beneficiaries:
  • the spouse;
  • the de-facto partner;
  • a child;
  • a former spouse;
  • a person who was or is fully or partly dependent on the deceased person;
  • a grandchild;
  • a person who was at any time a member of the household of the deceased person; and
  • a person in a close personal relationship at the time of death.

Under the BIRTHS, DEATHS AND MARRIAGES REGISTRATION ACT 1995 (NSW) Section 50 (Austl.) (accessed 1/1/2021), an Executor or Administrator can request the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to search if the deceased person had any children. Complete the Section 50 Search Application if you deem this is required.

Victoria (VIC) change State

The eligible Beneficiaries are listed under the ADMINISTRATION AND PROBATE ACT 1958 (VIC) Section 90 (Austl.) (accessed 1/1/2021).

Queensland (QLD) change State

The eligible Beneficiaries are listed under the SUCCESSION ACT 1981 (QLD) Section 40, Definitions (Austl.) (accessed 1/1/2021) and SUCCESSION ACT 1981 (QLD) Section 40A, Definitions (Austl.) (accessed 1/1/2021).

13.5 Meet with all Beneficiaries

Once you have a clear picture of who the Beneficiaries are as per the Will, the intestacy rules in the relevant State/Territory or any other legislation/rules that apply to your situation, you should inform and meet with the Beneficiaries.
If the family and Beneficiaries are generally amicable, then a meeting with all at once may be the easiest option as everyone hears the same information.

If some relationships are strained, it may be necessary to hold individual meetings with some Beneficiaries that cannot or would not meet with other Beneficiaries. If this is the case we recommend you hold meetings with Beneficiaries first that you know best to learn about how to best structure the meeting.

For such important meetings it will most likely be best if you:

Building and maintaining a solid relationship with the Beneficiaries will be greatly valuable as you work through the deceased estate administration.

13.6 Find out About Immediate Needs of Family Members

If the communication and meeting with Beneficiaries identifies financial dependence or other difficulties resulting from the death that you didn’t know of before, you should refer to Step 9 – Request Allowances & Government Support again to see whether or not there may be support available for that individual.

13.7 Contest a Will

A relative or person deemed eligible to be a Beneficiary, can contest a Will or Intestate estate by lodging a claim within a certain period (mostly six months) of the date the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration or the date of death.
If the claimant is unable to do so within this timeframe, some state legislation allows to apply for an extension so long as the application is lodged within that specified period.

This is something you should keep in mind and will be discussed again towards the end before you finalise and distribute the estate in Step 34.


Complete Step

Actions and Decisions to Complete Step Yourself

If you have decided to tackle this Step yourself after reading and understanding the above, you may want to:

  1. Review the Will (if applicable) to identify and agree who the named Beneficiaries of the estate are
    (see Step 13.1 above);
  2. Seek legal advice where multiple Wills are available naming different Beneficiaries who may make a claim
    (see Step 13.2 above);
  3. Identify the Beneficiaries using the simplyEstate Intestate Beneficiary Assessment Tool
    (see Step 13.3 above);
  4. Set-up a meeting with all Beneficiaries to inform them of the estate administration process and provide them with the simplyEstate Beneficiary Inheritance Guide
    (see Step 13.5 above);
  5. Discuss and agree how the clearance of the home or residence of the deceased person will be managed and if items specifically listed in the Will can be collected
    (see Step 13.5 above
  6. Identify if any of the Beneficiaries were financially dependent on the deceased person and see what allowances or support is available as outlined in Step 9
    (see Step 13.6 above); and
  7. Be prepared and provide the Beneficiaries with the necessary confidence that you as the Executor or Administrator will act in the best interest of the deceased estate, as per the Will and as per the law in the relevant State/Territory.

Information

Forms

Legislation

New South Wales (NSW) change State
Victoria (VIC) change State
Queensland (QLD) change State

Cost & Effort

Reading: 20 mins
Preparing: 1 hr
Completing: 1-2 hrs
Total: 2:20-3:20 hrs
Cost: 0$

Effort and cost are general estimates only and are based on the assumption that you complete this step without experienced support.

Instructions

To find out how this Process Guide works, access the instructions here.

Glossary

To find out what the capitalised words mean, access the glossary here.

New South Wales (NSW) change State
Victoria (VIC) change State
Queensland (QLD) change State

Forms

Children Search

Section 50 Search Application

Refer to Step 13.4 above for more detail about these forms.

N/A

N/A

Other forms not listed here may be required based on your specific circumstances.

Checklists & Tools

Beneficiary Inheritance Guide to help Beneficiaries understand the process and their role.
Intestate Beneficiary Assessment Tool to identify Beneficiaries where no Will is in place.
New South Wales (NSW) change State
Victoria (VIC) change State
Queensland (QLD) change State

Legislation & Rules

Eligible Beneficiaries

Without a Will

SUCCESSION ACT 2006 (NSW) Sections 101 – 140 (Austl.) (accessed 1/1/2021)

With a Will

SUCCESSION ACT 2006 (NSW) Section 57 (Austl.) (accessed 1/1/2021)

Children Search

BIRTHS, DEATHS AND MARRIAGES REGISTRATION ACT 1995 (NSW) Section 50 (Austl.) (accessed 1/1/2021), an Executor or Administrator can request the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to search if the deceased person had any children. Complete the Section 50 Search Application

Eligible Beneficiaries

Without a Will

ADMINISTRATION AND PROBATE ACT 1958 (VIC) Sections 70A – 70ZL (Austl.) (accessed 1/1/2021)

With a Will

ADMINISTRATION AND PROBATE ACT 1958 (VIC) Section 90 (Austl.) (accessed 1/1/2021)

Eligible Beneficiaries

Without a Will

SUCCESSION ACT 1981 (QLD) Sections 34 – 39D (Austl.) (accessed 1/1/2021)

With a Will

SUCCESSION ACT 1981 (QLD) Sections 40 – 40A (Austl.) (accessed 1/1/2021)

Other legislation and rules not listed here may apply to your specific circumstances.


Ask for Support

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Executor & Administrator Support

Have you encountered a challenge along the way, are you unsure about how to proceed or how to engage a lawyer? Speak to simplyEstate to point you in the right direction. See how we can help here.

Trusted Partners

New South Wales (NSW) change State

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Estate & Probate Lawyers

Search in Sydney

simplyEstate Trusted Lawyers in Sydney coming in early 2021.

complete this step with support from Carew Counsel Solicitors in Melbourne Victoria VIC

Carew Counsel

Melbourne CBD

We can help with:
  • determining Beneficiaries per the Will
  • determining Beneficiaries where no Will is in place
  • supporting with Beneficiary disputes

Find out if we can help during an obligation free phone consultation.

Find Out More

complete this step with support from McNab McNab & Starke Lawyers in Melbourne Essendon Sunbury VIC

McNab McNab & Starke

Melbourne CBD, Essendon & Sunbury

We can help with:
  • determining Beneficiaries per the Will
  • determining Beneficiaries where no Will is in place
  • supporting with Beneficiary disputes

Find out if we can help during an obligation free phone consultation.

Find Out More
complete this step with support from Sharrock Pitman Legal in Glen Waverley Victoria VIC

Sharrock Pitman Legal

Glen Waverley

We can help with:
  • determining Beneficiaries per the Will
  • determining Beneficiaries where no Will is in place
  • supporting with Beneficiary disputes

Find out if we can help during an obligation free phone consultation.

Find Out More
Search in Brisbane

simplyEstate Trusted Lawyers in Brisbane coming in early 2021.