Probate & Beneficiary Tracing
In the article, we will explain the process of Probate, missing heirs and how a beneficiary trace enquiry can resolve this issue of finding a missing beneficiary of a will.
Probate is the legal right to deal with the assets of a person who has died. Probate relates to the entire legal and financial process of transferring these assets to their rightful owners. The beneficiaries of the person’s will, or heirs, are those who have entitlement to inheritance. If any of these heirs are missing during probate, however, this could cause issues with wills and delay the process.
When a person dies their assets, property, money, and possessions, are distributed according to their last will and testament. Any debts of the deceased also need to be cleared. Probate is the term used to describe the process of settling someone’s estate, and applying for probate means obtaining the right to do so. In order to receive this permission you need to apply for a “grant of probate”.
Only certain people are entitled to apply for probate. This can depend on several factors. If you’ve been named as an “executor” in the will you can apply to deal with the distribution of the person’s assets. The will should state exactly what the deceased wants to happen to said assets. Part of the probate process is also to ensure the validity of the will.
Beneficiaries are the persons named in the will who receive an inheritance. This could be in the form of money, property, life insurance policy, or any other possessions listed. Anyone can be named as a beneficiary according to the discretion of the deceased. Beneficiaries can also be named as executors but this can sometimes lead to complications, often a separate executor is chosen to administer wills.
In some cases, a will is not present, and in this case, you’ll need to receive “letters of administration” to deal with the estate. Often closest living relatives are the most entitled to receive an inheritance without a will, but ultimately the law decides who inherits the estate. With or without a will, inheritance tax is also usually applied, unless the estate is worth less than £325,000 or in special cases.
Here are a few recent facts and figures relating to probate and inheritance tax in the UK.
- In 2017-2018 3.9% of UK deaths resulted in inheritance tax being charged. There has been a decrease since then due to the introduction of the residence nil rate band (RNRB) tax-free threshold in 2017.
- Probate isn’t normally required on estates with no property and a value of less than £5000.
- On average probate takes between 3-6 weeks to be granted in the UK.
- Missing beneficiaries are given a 12 year grace period in order to make a claim on inheritance, failing to do so within this time results in them being barred from claiming their entitlement.
- A list of unclaimed estates is held by the Treasury Solicitor and it is possible to make a claim if you believe you’re entitled to inheritance on one of these estates.
- Unclaimed estates expire after 30 years from the date of death.
The problem of missing heirs
A common problem when dealing with wills is missing heirs. If a beneficiary can’t be easily located this can cause delays to the probate process. There are different scenarios in the case of missing heirs. For example, in certain cases, an heir can be named in the will but their whereabouts are unknown and in other cases, the heir can’t be identified or located. Beneficiaries can also be unaware that they are entitled to inheritance, particularly in the case where will haven’t been left.
In the case that the missing heir is identified, but their whereabouts are unknown the executor of the will must make reasonable efforts to try to find them. This can be challenging. Without access to the resources they need to locate them, there aren’t many options apart from putting ads in local newspapers or searching for them online. The more information they have about the missing heir, the easier it will be to locate them.
If the deceased has not left a will then heirs need to be identified as well as located which can be a lengthy procedure. Whether or not someone is entitled to claim inheritance depends largely on their relationship to the deceased, and in the case that there is no immediate family or spouse, this can complicate things further. It might be necessary to resort to using probate tracing experts to trace beneficiaries back through the family tree.
If it’s not been possible to locate the missing heirs this complicates things for the executor and existing heirs. They will need to take out insurance to protect themselves in the case that the missing heir comes forward within the twelve-year period to make a claim on the estate. In some cases, funds are set aside to prepare for this possibility.
One of the main problems with missing heirs is that the executor is legally responsible and financially liable. Steps must be taken to ensure that they are covered in the case that a missing heir does come forward or else they might end up having to pay their share. For this reason, it’s impossible to completely finalise the settling of the estate.
Even though the missing beneficiary is only entitled to claim their inheritance within twelve years from the date of death, this could still be problematic. If funds are set aside to cover this, but the beneficiary does not come forward within this period, these funds will need to be distributed across the other beneficiaries. This could result in further difficulties in locating existing beneficiaries and complications if any of them are since deceased.
Missing heirs cause delays to probate and the distribution of inheritance to existing heirs. This is upsetting and stressful for the family members and loved ones of the deceased. Failure to locate missing heirs could result in other legal and financial complications. For this reason, it’s recommended to work with a tracing agency with the resources and expertise to locate heirs.
The Missing Heirs Solution
Do you need a beneficiary trace enquiry? Locating a missing beneficiary is not something that most of us do very often and normally is only required at a time of loss and grieving. There is a solution, that is inexpensive and fast; Find UK People® can locate a missing heir from one missing legatee to all heirs named in a will.
Where the deceased has died testate there may be one or more legatees who need to be traced and Find UK People® can normally locate these missing heirs in just 24 hours.
Probate research and finding heirs named in probate allows one to provide the right inheritance to the correct named individual. In some probate matters there may be no known heirs or there may be missing heirs whose names are known but their contact information is not current or known.
Find UK People® can assist solicitors and members of the general public to trace down missing heirs to unclaimed estates.
How we can help
Find UK People® provides a rapid, efficient and compliant means to trace missing heirs for probate tracing in the UK. We will track the current address of any UK based heir by using our advanced tracing technology to trace missing beneficiaries.
Find UK People® will yield high success rates when beneficiary tracing and our current average trace success rate is 96%
All of our probate tracing services are offered on a no trace no fee basis, just place your initial order with us and we will investigate.
How tracing a missing beneficiary works
This fast beneficiary tracing service will locate a current verified address of a missing beneficiary
We will provide you with the current address of the missing heir with our beneficiary trace enquiry which will have been verified and traced via two separate information sources by our expert probate tracing agents.
This is guaranteed to be a current address for the missing heir on the date the trace report is generated. We underwrite this probate tracking information for 60 days, so in the event, you feel the information is incorrect we will recheck the case for you free of any charge for 60 days.
We are probate tracing agent experts and provide an effective low-cost heir tracing solution.