October 19, 2017

Beneficiary Rights …

If you are the beneficiary of an estate, what information should you expect from the executor / estate trustee and what happens from your perspective as a beneficiary?

First of all, in Ontario there is no requirement for a reading of the will as you see in American TV programs. Beneficiaries of an estate have the right to information concerning the estate and to receive their inheritance in a timely manner. The executor may or may not give you a copy of the will shortly after the death.

With some estates an executor has to apply to court for what most people call probate, although that is no longer the technical term. Probate is the process by which the will is validated by the court. The executor has to send each beneficiary a copy of the relevant part of the will or the whole will.  In most cases executors find it easier to send the whole will. As a beneficiary you have the right to be notified when the executor applies to the court for
probate.

Once a will is filed with the court for probate, it becomes a public document and anyone can look at it in the court file.

As a beneficiary you have the right to receive information related to assets and to the accounting of the estate. You may raise questions and concerns with the executor related to the assets and accounting. If they are not forthcoming with the information you may ask for assistance from the court to obtain this information.

A beneficiary has the right to receive their entitlement from the estate in a reasonable amount of time. The complexity of the estate will determine what a reasonable amount of time is and can vary greatly from one estate to another.

The executor is entitled to compensation in their role as estate trustee but a beneficiary has the right to review this compensation and either approve or challenge it. To challenge the amount of compensation an estate trustee receives a beneficiary will have to make an application to the court and provide reasons for a change in the executor’s compensation. Ultimately it will be the court that determines what is a fair and equitable fee to be paid to the executor.

If at any time during the administration of an estate the beneficiary becomes dissatisfied with the efforts
being made by the executor then the beneficiary has the right to apply to the court to ask for the executor to be removed from their role.

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Feel free to contact us at any point for assistance or advice with respect to Estate Law, Estate Planning, Estate Administration or Estate Litigation. We may be reached at 705.435.4339 or contact us via email .