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Could you receive an interim distribution on a will?

Execution of wills can take a very, very long time. If you’re a beneficiary, you may not have the luxury of waiting for an inheritance to be sorted. What recourse do you have? A recent Australian case – Angius v Salier – reveals how interim distribution might help.

What is an executor, and what are they tasked with?
You may have heard the phrase, “an executor’s year” before. A year is the typical period of time an executor is given between the death of the estate-holder and the distribution of the estate to the beneficiaries – but this isn’t law, just general practice. During this year, the executor will obtain and organise all assets of the deceased, make good on all debts or taxation liabilities, maintain records of all assets and dealings, and – finally – deliver assets to beneficiaries as outlined in the will. But these are only the most basic tasks. If a will is contested, this can slow the process further.

What are interim distributions?
Put simply, an interim distribution is not a final but a provisional payment to a beneficiary – usually because of an urgent need. The interim distribution is accounted for when the final settling of accounts is made, and it won’t exceed the original final entitlement of that beneficiary. This is all at the discretion of the executor – though sometimes the Court will step in.

A major interim distribution case
When Laura Angius died in 2012, she left an estate valued at over $13 million. There was one sole beneficiary – the deceased’s son, Robert Angius. A year after Ms Angius’ death, both her daughter and husband brought proceedings against the estate, tying up the process of distributing the estate to the beneficiary, Mr Angius. Years later, in 2018, Mr Angius applied to the NSW Supreme Court, seeking an interim distribution of $1 million.

The Court followed through on the order as sought by Mr Angius. One of several things needed to be considered first though: In the case that the deceased’s daughter and husband succeeded in their claims, would $1 million be a safe interim distribution? It was. Additionally, Mr Angius’ situation met sufficient need for the interim distribution. He had significant hearing issues and needed cochlear implants, and he had pressing legal costs as a result of the estate conflicts.

Are you dealing with an estate handled by a slow executor or tied up in court? If you have need for an interim distribution, you should get in contact with Gerard Malouf and Partners today.

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Gerard Malouf & Partners
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