The Executors legal duty is to distribute the estate according to the terms of the will. This sounds straightforward, but what happens if one of the beneficiaries is missing ?
An executor must ensure that he or she undertakes all reasonable steps to finding a missing beneficiary, given this what are options ?
Instruct a firm of geneologists
Genealogists or heir hunters trace missing beneficiaries. Given the use of the internet, and social media tools as well as online access to databases, tracing beneficiaries has become much easier. Typically, heir hunters charge on a fixed fee or a percentage of the missing beneficiaries inheritance. It is relatively rare for a beneficiary not to be found.
Obtain Missing beneficiary insurance
In the rare case that a missing beneficiary cannot be traced, insurance can be obtained from specialist insurers. As part of the application process, a detailed questionnaire has to be completed, which asks a series of questions about the estate, what attempts have been made to trace the beneficiary, together a request for a full family tree.s
Apply to the Court
An Executor can apply to the Court for what is known as a Benjamin Order, this involves the Court being asked to make an Order outlining the manner in which the estate can be distributed, this maybe on the basis that the beneficiary is dead, or whatever terms the Court Orders.
Making a payment under CPR part 37
The Trustee Act 1925, enables a PR of an estate to make a payment into Court. Part 6.1 of the CPR Practice Direction part 37 outlines the procedure that must be followed. this involves, a detailed witness statement setting out a description of the trust/will, the names of the persons interested in or entitled to the money or securities to be paid into court, with their address so far as known to him, a statement that the trustee agrees to answer any inquiries which the court may make or direct relating to the application of the money or securities; andthe trustee’s address for service.
The witness statement or affidavit must be filed at Chancery Chambers at the Royal Courts of Justice, a Chancery district registry of the High Court; or the County Court hearing centre where the case is proceeding.
If a trustee pays money or securities into court, unless the court orders otherwise they must immediately serve notice of the payment into court on every person interested in or entitled to the money or securities.
Distributing an estate when there are issues as the whereabouts of beneficiaries should be handled extremely cautiously and legal advice should always be obtained. If you need help, distributing an estate call Tim Murden on 01482 428895 or email firstname.lastname@example.org