Estate beneficiaries - frequently asked questions

Here you’ll find answers to our most commonly asked questions by estate beneficiaries. If you’ve got a question that isn’t covered here, our specialists can help. Please click here to get in touch with us.

Who arranges the funeral?

The first priority is to plan the funeral. This is usually organised by the family. When there is no family or the family is unable to do this, if Public Trust is the executor or administrator, we can help make the funeral arrangements.

Do I need to see the will before the funeral?

It’s best to check the will before making the funeral arrangements. It may contain funeral wishes, or wishes may be held along with the will.

I think Public Trust has the will – how can I check?

Call us on 0800 371 471, and we can check to see if we hold a will and when it was last updated. We can give this information to a beneficiary or executor of a will. We will first need to ask some questions to identify that the person requesting the information is entitled to receive it, as we consider the protection of our customers' privacy to be very important.

What if there is no will?

If there is no will, the estate is distributed in accordance with the 'rules of intestacy' set our in the Administration Act 1969. There are rules to follow, and we can advise you about these rules and manage the estate for you.

When should I meet with Public Trust?

We understand that your first priority is the funeral and saying goodbye to your loved one. Once you are ready, call us to talk about timing and how things should be dealt with.

Is my inheritance separate or joint property?

Under the Property (Relationships) Act 1976, your inheritance is your own separate property. But if you mix it with money or assets you share with your partner, it could become relationship property – meaning they could be entitled to half if you split up. This is why we suggest that your inheritance is paid into an account in your sole name.

Please talk to us if you would like further advice on how to keep you inheritance separate or grow and protect it for the future.

What if assets are to be held in trust?

If the will states that money or assets are to be held in trust for a period of time, the estate may continue for many years.

Assets may be held in trust when a beneficiary is under 20 or because the will has set some condition that must be met before the asset can be distributed. An asset may also be held in trust if one or more beneficiaries is given a right to use or to receive income from that asset for a certain period of time. On expiry of that interest, the will usually sets out how that asset is then to be distributed.

Where appointed to act, our role is to manage these assets or funds on behalf of the beneficiaries in keeping with the terms of the will trusts.

We look at the terms of the will, the types of assets involved and the needs of all the beneficiaries. Then we work out an appropriate strategy for managing the assets and investments. We review the strategy regularly to make sure it continues to meet the beneficiaries’ needs, and we charge annual fees for ongoing management of the Trust.

Where can I get more information?

Your adviser will be the main person who will guide you through the whole process. They will oversee the estate administration from start to finish and are supported by our team of lawyers and accountants who manage all the legal, tax and administrative tasks.

What are the fees?

The fees can be a combination of a fixed fee and time in attendance. If we need to go over the time that is set up in the fixed fee, an hourly rate is applied for the additional time.

Fees and charges.

What if I'm the executor of the will as well as a beneficiary?

Sometimes, one of the beneficiaries can also be an executor. If you are looking for more information about this, visit our Help for executors page.