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What is a Beneficiary of a Will? 

A beneficiary will be an individual or legal entity that receives an inheritance/gift from a Will. There are particular legal rights which will help ensure that the inheritance from the Will is managed and passed to the beneficiary in line with the testator’s’ wishes. 


Rights of a Beneficiary to a Will 

Beneficiaries and executors of a Will have various rights which they share in common. These rights only come into effect after the death of the testator, up until this point any beneficiary will have no interest in the assets. Beneficiaries can be removed/changed any time before the death of a testator.

In order to ensure beneficiaries understand the trust, it is necessary that they receive adequate details regarding the trust assets. The trustee has a responsibility to produce copies of the relevant documentation. In some situations beneficiaries may want further information, however it is not the trustee’s duty to provide this, and it is down to their discretion  

Who Can Be a Beneficiary? 


Children / Grandchildren 

Until a child becomes an adult, their gift/inheritance is held, unless an age is specified in the terms of the Will. 

Other relatives





What Happens if a Beneficiary Dies Before the Testator? 

If a beneficiary dies between the point when the Will was made and the death of the testator, under this scenario the beneficiary’s estate will usually have no benefit from the Will. 

If the beneficiary has died before the testator, the benefit is said to have lapsed, although there are exceptions to this rule. Click here for more information. 

It cannot be forced upon a beneficiary of a Will to take a benefit; they may reject the benefit at any point before possession of assets have been taken. If the interest is rejected then the disclaimer is treated for a transfer of value. Beneficiaries can also choose to redirect a benefit.  


What Happens if a Beneficiary Dies After the Testator? 

In some instances a gift can be subject to conditions. If the beneficiary does not meet the requirement(s), the beneficiary’s estate will not be entitled to the benefit. 

An example of when this can happen is if a testator has left a gift to a child/grandchild for them to receive when they reach a certain age and they die before the age is reached. If the conditions are not met the benefit cannot be claimed by the beneficiary’s estate. 


If you need to speak with an experienced solicitor regarding Wills, probate or asset management please call the team on 02920 404034 or email

Read more: What Happens if the Executor of a Will Dies?

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