No beneficiary has a right to any of the deceased's property until the executor distributes the estate. This can cause hardship if the main beneficiary is a spouse or domestic partner who has no other source of income.
A surviving spouse or domestic partner may be entitled to social security assistance (see PAYMENTS - CENTRELINK, and a surviving spouse or domestic partner may be able to obtain a loan, using the estate as security. In some cases an executor, such as the Public Trustee, will make a partial distribution, or an advance, to a surviving spouse or domestic partner.
Such hardship may be avoided by keeping a joint bank account. On the death of either, the whole of the account passes to the survivor.