The following Wills & Probate guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:
A breach of duty may arise where the personal representatives (PRs) distribute an estate without taking into account the existence of a beneficiary of whom they are aware, whether that beneficiary is specifically named or a member of a class of beneficiaries. Section 27 of the Trustee Act 1925 (TA 1925) protects PRs against claims of unknown beneficiaries entitled under the Will or on intestacy. TA 1925, s 27 does not provide protection where the PRs know of a beneficiary but not their whereabouts and omit them from benefiting on distribution.
If a known beneficiary is missing, the PRs should make all reasonable enquiries to establish the beneficiary’s whereabouts:
advertisement in a newspaper circulating in the area in which the beneficiary was last heard of
advertisement in the Law Society Gazette
employment of genealogists or title research agents to trace beneficiaries
employment of a private investigator
Employing genealogists, title research agents or a private investigator can be costly. The PRs should be satisfied that the circumstances of the case and the amounts involved justify such expenditure.
The PRs may employ a genealogist to trace the beneficiary. The genealogist may work:
to a fixed fee/to an agreed limit at the cost of the estate
on a contingency fee basis, ie they
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