“Will distribution” refers to the way that property is transferred to other people in a will document.  Will distributions are usually made to the spouse, children, immediate relatives, distant relatives, and close friends. 

In a valid will, the person should clearly identify both the property to be distributed as well as the person that will be receiving it.  In some cases, the person may make distributions to categories of people, such as “my children” or “my siblings”.  This is acceptable so long as it doesn’t lead to confusion or difficulties with the will distribution.  In general, it’s better to name people specifically in the will.

Will distributions are distinguished from other forms of property distributions such as probate distribution or through inter vivos gifts.  Will distribution issues are usually at the center of most will contest lawsuits. 

What Can Be Distributed in a Deed? 

A person usually distributes the contents of their estate in a will.  This can include:

  • Real estate property such as a home, condo, or a plot of land
  • Personal property, including household items, furniture, clothing and jewelry, musical instruments, appliances, and other tangible items
  • Bank account funds
  • Certain types of securities
  • In some cases, various types of employment-related benefits, such as retirement payments (this may depend on the individual contract with the former employer)

Of course, a person can’t bequeath (distribute or transfer) property that they don’t own.  Also, distributions cannot be made if the subject matter is illegal or if the distribution will cause a party to violate the law.  Some types of non-tangible property can’t be distributed in a will (especially if the property is subject to a contract that says that it is “non-transferable” to a third party).

Who are the Recipients?

Recipients of will distributions are called “beneficiaries”.  As mentioned, these are usually the person’s spouse, children, close family members, and friends.  However, any person can be named as a beneficiary in the will, even if they are not related to the creator of the will.  Some organizations can be mentioned in a will.  A common example of this is where a person distributes some of their estate to a charitable non-profit organization.

What is a Distribution Deed?

A distribution deed is a type of legal document used for transferring property when the recipient can’t be determined from the will itself.  In such instances, the executor or administrator (the party in charge of the distributions after the person’s death) is entrusted with the task of dealing with that particular property.  A distribution deed will therefore contain certain information such as death records of the property owner, identification of the property, and reassignment of the property to the most appropriate beneficiary.

What if There is a Disagreement With the Will Distribution Arrangement?

Will distribution contests can be very difficult to deal with due to the fact that the will creator is usually no longer alive when the beneficiaries discover how the distributions are arranged.  As such, the will executor or administrator will have to deal with will contests, which is why it’s so important to pick the right person to act as an estate administrator.

Will contests may require a filing with the court, which will then intervene to determine the facts surrounding the dispute.  They will examine all will documents and other records related to the property (such as the deed to a plot of land).  They may also consider the relationship between the deceased person and the parties that are disputing the distributions.  The court may then issue an order regarding how the property is to be distributed after analyzing the entire situation.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Will Distribution Laws?

Will distribution laws can vary from state to state, especially when it comes to distributions made to spouses and ex-spouses.  If you need assistance with your own will distributions, you may wish to hire an estate lawyer for help in drafting and reviewing a valid will.  Or, you may need to hire an experienced lawyer if you need assistance with any form of will contest or will dispute.  Your attorney near you can help you make a filing with the court and can represent you during the trial.