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What Can Executors Do About Missing Beneficiaries?

It is the executor’s duty to fulfil the terms of the will, and distribute the estate as they are meant to, but what happens if they can’t find one or more of the beneficiaries who should be receiving part of the estate in question? They are under a legal obligation to take all reasonable steps to ensure that they have looked for the missing beneficiary and this includes:

Find Genealogists

Genealogists or heir hunters can be instructed to look for those who are missing if they are beneficiaries of a will. They have many different tools at their disposal to do this and, matched with their experience, they should be able to find the person you are looking for. 

Missing Beneficiary Insurance

If, in very rare instances, the missing beneficiary cannot be found even with the help of heir hunters, there is a type of insurance – missing beneficiary insurance – that can be obtained. This will need to come from specialist insurers. The executor will need to complete a detailed form that requires them to know about the estate and they need to prove that they have done what they can to trace the beneficiary. They may also have to provide a full family tree.

Apply To The Court

An executor will be able to apply to the court in order to obtain a Benjamin Order. This means that the court makes an order that distributes the court differently to what was written in the will, and it assumes that the beneficiary has died.

A CPR Part 37 Payment

If the executor prefers, he or she can make a payment to the courts under the CPR Part 37 scheme. This means that the portion of the estate that would have gone to the missing beneficiary instead goes to the courts in a trust for that person should they be found. Everyone else who is interested in or entitled in the estate or money should be informed that this has happened.

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