A beneficiary is a person who, when someone else dies, is expected to inherit something from an estate. It may be income, belongings, properties or stocks and shares-everything left behind by the individual who died.

That is a fundamental value to the beneficiary. Another word you can hear is’ waste receiver.’ This is anyone who will earn all or part of an estate after consideration has been taken of all debts, taxes and gifts.

Can an executor of a will be a beneficiary? Can a trustee?

Yes. It’s very normal for the will executor–who is responsible for ensuring that the terms of the will are followed–to be one of the key beneficiaries, too. If anyone is a trustee and works for a trust on behalf of someone else, they may also be a beneficiary in their own right.

You cannot be a beneficiary if:

  • You are a witness to the signing of the will.
  • You are found to be criminally responsible for the death of the person.

A pet cannot be identified in a will as a beneficiary because under UK law pets are considered as property. Instead, if you no longer can, you may consider appointing a guardian to care for your pet.

If you’re a will beneficiary, what can you expect?

If you’re a beneficiary, which means someone died and left you something, the process is going to be a bit like this:

  • First, the executor will send you a letter explaining the terms of the will and what you are due to receive.
  • The executor will then contact you with details of when you can expect to receive your inheritance. This can vary depending on the complexity of the estate.
  • At this point, you can ask for regular updates on when you can expect to receive the inheritance.
  • Once the will has been logged by the Probate Office, which is a government registry, it will become public and you can read it in full.
  • You should eventually receive your inheritance but be prepared to wait: the estate administration process usually takes between nine and twelve months.
  • You may need to approve and sign paperwork for the estate accounts and will need to sign a receipt after receiving your inheritance from the estate.
  • You may need to pay income tax on that inheritance. You can find out if you’ll need to pay income tax here.

What happens if a beneficiary of a will is deceased?

If a beneficiary of a will dies before the estate is resolved, there may be a clause in the will specifying what will happen. For example, the will may specify that their portion will be passed on to a certain person if a beneficiary die. Unless there is no such provision, the inheritance is a part of the estate of the beneficiary.

Thinking about writing a will?

You can make a simple legally-binding will for just £XX with Brighton Wills online will service. It takes just XX minutes to record your wishes.