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Fulfilling The Role Of A Personal Representative When Administering The Estate

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

Dealing with a family member’s passing is difficult in itself, but if you are responsible for administering the estate, your worries are automatically heightened and not without good reason.

When a person has died it is the responsibility of a Personal Representative (PR) of a deceased’s estate to ensure the correct beneficiaries are identified prior to distribution. If PRs distribute the estate and omit to include a beneficiary they can be held personally liable to fulfil that legacy out of their own funds.

If you do find yourself in the position of PR here are some handy tips.

  1. Do place adequate notices in the London Gazette and any other local newspapers where the beneficiary was last known to have lived. If necessary tracing agents can also be instructed to help with the search.
  2. Do keep a reserve fund pending the missing or unknown beneficiaries being traced and coming forward. This may not be practical due to timescales. It also delays the estate from being completely administered.
  3. Do distribute the estate on the basis that the beneficiary has predeceased and obtain an indemnity from the other beneficiaries. This is not possible if you have minor beneficiaries in the estate. It is also risky if the unknown/missing beneficiary comes to light, you may not be able to recover monies distributed from other beneficiaries.
  4. Do obtain indemnity insurance. The premiums must be maintained out of the general estate and may be expensive.
  5. Do apply for a Benjamin Order. This is where the Court orders the estate to be distributed on the basis that the missing beneficiary has predeceased. The Court requires a full list of enquiries to have been made prior to granting the Order. This will result in more costs and further delays.
  6. Do pay the missing beneficiaries money into the Court’s Fund Office. This is a cheaper option and satisfies PRs obligations. It also allows the administration of the estate to continue.

If you need any advice contact our Specialist Team

Kayleigh Brown

Posted:

Kayleigh Brown

Associate

Kayleigh qualified as a Solicitor in 2019 and works within the Private Client team at our office in Leicester. She has over 4 years of experience advising clients on Wills, LPAs, Probate, Estate Administration and a range of Tax and Trust issues.