Wright Johnston and Mackenzie Solicitors

Helping Beneficiaries

If you have an entitlement to a trust or someone’s estate, it’s not always straightforward. Often legal help is required to help protect your entitlement or avoid court actions.

Whilst finding out you have been left some legacy or entitlement ought to be a pleasant surprise, there can be obstacles in receiving that inheritance.

Some of the common issues beneficiaries could face are:

  • vagueness in the Will as to what is included (or excluded) from a legacy – for example a legacy of the “business” but perhaps no reference to business premises
  • conditions attached to a legacy to receive the entitlement, which may not be enforceable
  • concerns as to what is in the estate if there are assets or funds missing with no explanation
  • a wish to receive specific assets (perhaps a house), but disagreements with other parties as to the value of those assets for dividing up the estate
  • executors/trustees not providing information, failing to progress matters, or acting in a way that is favouring them personally (for example living in the deceased’s house instead of selling)

Where the issues are with an executor/trustee who is not performing their duties properly (which includes progressing the administration of an estate), it might be possible to seek their removal. If they have caused any loss to the estate, damages might also be an option.

Beneficiaries can also seek an accounting from trustees and executors (sometimes from attorneys who acted in lifetime), which may answer a lot of questions as to what has happened.

For the other issues that beneficiaries tend to face, it often comes down to negotiating and agreeing how to distribute the estate between all beneficiaries.

If agreement cannot be reached, there are Court options. However, Court actions come with additional time delays, costs, and often no guarantee of success.

With that in mind, we can also talk you through alternative dispute resolution options including Mediation. Our team includes an Accredited Mediator, and several Partners with hands-on mediation experience in this field.

“[SJ Macdonald]...helps clients maximise the value of mediation. She ably demonstrates the key skills of mediation advocacy - selecting the mediators; preparing the parties; providing representation and expert advice on the mediation day; and excellent follow-up to ensure matters are fully resolved.” Legal 500 2019

If you do have concerns about your entitlement to an estate, please do get in touch with our team.