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I am a beneficiary of a deceased estate

Finding out that you are a beneficiary of an estate often comes when you are grieving the loss of a loved one. It may be a difficult time to think about the belongings and assets of the person who has died. However, it can help if you understand how estate administration works.

What is a beneficiary?

A beneficiary is any person or organisation, such as a charity, that receives a gift or benefit from a deceased person’s estate.

What is an estate?

An estate includes all the assets a person had, such as money or a property they owned. The estate also includes any debts the person had, such as loans.

Who is an executor?

An executor is the person or trustee (like State Trustees) who is responsible for administering the estate. This includes organising the funeral and transferring assets to the beneficiaries.

The executor is named in the person’s will. They follow the instructions in the will and make sure that the person’s final wishes are carried out.

Read more about what an executor does.

Things you might need to know as a beneficiary

  • In Victoria, as a beneficiary, you’re entitled to inspect and make a copy of a will.
  • Executors are legally responsible for the estate.
  • All bank accounts and assets of the estate are frozen when the person dies. The executor protects the estate and assets from the date of the person’s death until they are able to distribute it.
  • You can seek your own legal advice if you believe you haven’t been properly provided for in the will.
  • Estate administration usually takes between nine months and one year.

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