What happens if you can't find a beneficiary?

Discussion in 'Wills, inheritances and gifts' started by Thirsty, Dec 10, 2010.

  1. Thirsty

    Thirsty Frequent Poster

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    My question is pretty much what it says on the tin. Beneficiary hasn't been heard of for more than 5 years, have tried to trace, checked last known address, placed ads etc.

    At some point I guess we have to come to the conclusion that beneficiary has either passed away or basically doesn't want to come forward.

    Are there rules about what happens to their share of the estate? Beneficiary has two adult children, but is divorced.

    Mods: sorry could have sworn I was posting this in the Wills etc., section - would you mind moving it for me please? thank you.
     
  2. mercman

    mercman Frequent Poster

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    Obviously the matter will have to be brought to a solicitor. However on the basis of the information provided, that they have two adult children, it really cannot be that difficult to find the person concerned.
     
  3. Vanilla

    Vanilla Frequent Poster

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    If the amount is large enough you could investigate having them declared legally dead so their benefit could pass to their children. Depends on whether the amount is enough to make it worthwhile to do so. If only a small amount then it will be up to the administrator/executor.
     
  4. Concert

    Concert Frequent Poster

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    As far as I know if a beneficiary has passed away their share will usually pass to the deceased person's next of kin.
     
  5. Thirsty

    Thirsty Frequent Poster

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    Thanks everyone for your replies
    @Mercman
    Have you attempted to trace someone before? Please tell me what other avenues you can suggest?

    @Concert - we don't know for certain if the beneficiary is deceased.

    @Vanilla - based on what the property was sold for and the number of other beneficiaries my rough estimate would be in the region of E50k.

    Not wealth beyond one's wildest dreams, but enough not to want to see it going to the cats & dogs home.

    Is the decision (to seek to have the beneficiary declared legally dead) entirely up to the executor?
     
  6. Thirsty

    Thirsty Frequent Poster

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    Update:

    There is indemnity insurance available which can be taken out by the Executors to allow them to distribute the legacy of the untraceable beneficiary.

    It is also possible to get something called a Benjamin Order which is a court order again to distribute the unclaimed legacy. However, I gather this is a relatively expensive option.

    A fly in the ointment however is that the Will itself says the legacy is held in trust until the children of the untraceable beneficiary are 25 years of age.

    Can anyone tell me if this clause can be contested?

    Both children are at University and not unreasonably would be hoping to use the legacy to support their education.
     
  7. niceoneted

    niceoneted Frequent Poster

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    I take it so that the 2 offspring of the beneficiary that cannot be found are going to now benefit but only when they reach 25. And at that stage they will inherit circa 25k each plus any interests.
    They may be able to get a loan on the basis that the money is going to be available to them on reaching 25.
     
  8. Thirsty

    Thirsty Frequent Poster

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    Don't know that for certain; still don't know if that decision is for the executors only?

    That's not guaranteed at this point.
     
  9. Redstarlet

    Redstarlet Registered User

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    Be very careful on tax issues arising here.. check out to see if Discretionary Trust tax is an issue. A tax of 6% may be applicable once the "objects" of the trust turn 21yrs old and an annual tax of 1% thereafter. Be very slow to distribute the estate (without proper legal and tax advise) if you are the executor as you are liable if the estate is incorrectly distributed.
     
  10. Thirsty

    Thirsty Frequent Poster

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    I don't think it's a Discretionary Trust in that sense?

    The will says:

    X share of my estate to Joe Bloggs provided that if he shall have predeceased me then his children Jane Bloggs and Mary Bloggs shall take the share he would have taken if living at my death in equal shares to be held upon trust upon attaining the age of 25 years.

    Can the executor 'ignore' the age requirement here?

    For the sake of the question, lets assume either the insurance policy or Benjamin order route is taken and the executor is covered should the untraceable beneficiary turn up on someones doorstep.
     
  11. Thirsty

    Thirsty Frequent Poster

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    Another update:

    It seems that before anything is done in regards to the beneficiary/legacy; it must first be proven that all attempts have been made to trace said beneficiary.

    from what I can gather this effectively this means using a Tracing/Enquiry Agency in order to stand up as 'all means possible'.

    So, and this is a long shot, can any of the Solicitors here recommend one? Preferably one with a UK office, since its most likely the search will be there.

    I've googled plenty of them, but they all seem to have non-geographic numbers and 'virtual offices' for addresses. Doesn't inspire confidence. A recommendation would be a big help.
     
  12. csirl

    csirl Frequent Poster

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    I gather that you know the 2 adult children (otherwise you would not know they are in college). Are you saying that the 2 children do not know whether or not their father is alive or dead? Sounds improbable that they wouldnt know or would not have the ability to find out. Surely they know of or can trace other relatives on their fathers side who would know? Also, have you done a Death Certificate search for his name?

    What about that firm on that BBC TV series (now being repeated on Discovery), that specialises in tracing the missing beneficiaries of Wills? Name of programme escapes me.
     
  13. csirl

    csirl Frequent Poster

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  14. Thirsty

    Thirsty Frequent Poster

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    Yes.

    Not really, left their last known address, hasn't been in contact. Don't have a current address/phone number, none of his family has heard from him, he hasn't turned up to any family funerals etc.

    None of his relatives have had contact from him either.

    In Ireland, yes - every single county for every single year since he was last heard of - takes quite a time! :) UK is another story.

    Thank you for that link - I'd never heard of the programme before (I obviously lead a very sheltered life!) - think that will be very useful.

    Updated to add: the age limit only applies if Joe Bloggs died BEFORE the deceased. If he died afterwards, then my understanding is (assuming he hadn't made a will) intestacy will apply and the children would therefore share the legacy between them.

    Checked out the website of the company referenced above, they don't take instructions from the public - they specialise in estates that will otherwise revert to the Treasury. Which isn't the case here. But I might be able to get another lead from there.

    Thanks for your help.
     
  15. csirl

    csirl Frequent Poster

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    You're correct about the public, but I think they, and similar companies, do take inquiries submitted by solicitors.
     
  16. Thirsty

    Thirsty Frequent Poster

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    Update - just if there's anyone else in this position it might be helpful.

    The firm referenced above (Fraser & Fraser) have been instructed by a Solicitor; I gather the costs are in the hundreds rather than thousands and it can be met from the legacy rather than funded from someones own pocket.

    The adult children had to deliver a kick up rear end to the person responsible for the estate in question, the Solicitors instruction could (and should in my view) have been made years ago. But that's another days work.
     
  17. Thirsty

    Thirsty Frequent Poster

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    Another update:

    The so-called Enquiry Agency did not prove to be particularly useful. Their 'report' consisted of a re-hash of the information already provided and not only gave nothing new but in their conclusions were wildly inaccurate. Waste of time and money.

    The next course of action is to go to court and seek a Benjamin order to allow the estate to be distributed to the adult children of the original beneficiary; I understand the executor can do this themselves.

    Will let you know how it goes!
     
  18. Deiseblue

    Deiseblue Frequent Poster

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    The Salvation Army provide an invaluable resource - the family tracing service.

    Many professional firms providing Executor & Trustee services have traced missing beneficiaries via this resource.
     
  19. Thirsty

    Thirsty Frequent Poster

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    Already been done Deiseblue, unfortunately they weren't able to turn up anything.
     
  20. emeralds

    emeralds Frequent Poster

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    I have a friend whose brother was declared 'dead' two years ago. He had emigrated to America about 25 years ago, kept up contact for about 3 years and then completely disappeared without trace. They had gone over several times to look for him and found nothing. His other brother died 3 years ago and had left him a considerable amount of money (in excess of €250,000) so they needed to do something. I will see her next week and ask how they went about it...