Payment of legacies

The following Wills & Probate practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Payment of legacies
  • Identification of beneficial interests
  • Executor's year
  • Deciding to distribute
  • Beneficiaries
  • Duty to distribute
  • Class descriptions
  • Class-closing
  • Entitlement
  • Advertisements
  • More...

Payment of legacies

Identification of beneficial interests

The personal representatives (PRs) of an estate must identify:

  1. the beneficiary or beneficiaries entitled to each particular legacy

  2. what each beneficiary is entitled to receive, and

  3. the time at which each legacy should be paid

Executor's year

PRs have at least one year from the date of death before beneficiaries can call on them to distribute any part of the estate.

Deciding to distribute

Before deciding to commence distribution, PRs must consider:

  1. outstanding tax liabilities

  2. outstanding debts

  3. unknown beneficiaries

  4. rectification action

  5. family provision claims

  6. variation or disclaimer


Duty to distribute

PRs must distribute to the persons entitled under the deceased's Will or under the intestacy rules. Before distributing, they must satisfy themselves as to the correct identity of the beneficiaries. See Practice Note: Will interpretation—specific beneficiary identification issues.

Class descriptions

When a beneficiary under the Will is identified by reference to a general class description, the PRs must ascertain all those within the class description at the relevant time. See Practice Note: Will interpretation—when are beneficiaries ascertained?


These are rules of construction aimed at closing entry to the class as soon as someone satisfies the class requirements so that persons satisfying the class description but born afterwards cannot join it.


This depends on the type of legacy.

PRs must be alert to the possibility that a legacy has lapsed or failed.


PRs must ensure that they make the statutory advertisements under

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