A question we get asked all the time is, “would you consider providing missing beneficiary insurance without full genealogical research?”
The person asking can be a solicitor in the midst of administrating a small estate, where the deceased’s family, or large parts of it, are unknown.
What they’re really asking is, “How far do I have to go trace people?” Because in this situation, solicitors face the real risk that there will be little, or nothing, left to pay the estate beneficiaries even if they are eventually traced.
How far do you go with attempting to trace the beneficiaries and researching the family tree?
If there are no close family, preliminary searches may find numerous aunts and uncles on both paternal and maternal sides of the family. In Scotland you may also be faced with researching one generation further back into the grandparents’ families. This makes research even more challenging, costly and lengthy.
“Usually a solicitor will make a decision to research one side of the family only, for example the maternal side, after some preliminary research is carried out,” says Kate Thorp, Manager of DUAL Asset’s Inheritance & Protection team.
“Perhaps an initial search has shown some of the paternal family have moved abroad for example, or the paternal family is far more extensive than the maternal side."
“The paternal side can then be insured and cover provided to protect the administrators/executors and traced maternal beneficiaries, in the event a paternal beneficiary comes forward at a later date and makes a claim on the estate.”
This particular way of insuring can assist the solicitor greatly in managing the cost of research and ultimately, could also speed up the distribution of the estate, as less time will be spent on researching the family tree.
Another common problem are historic funds.
“We often get asked to insure monies held for many years, even decades.” says Kate Thorp.
“In such cases, there simply isn’t enough money to carry out any research, or paperwork has been lost or destroyed.”
“To clear the money from their firm’s account, the solicitor wants to donate the money to a local charity - but they do not want to “disinherit” the missing beneficiary."
“A policy will protect the missing beneficiary’s interest in the event they do come forward in the future – and some good comes from the money going to a charity, instead of just sitting in a bank account, unclaimed.”
If you have a small estate, where you are facing challenges in managing research costs, contact Kate Thorp at DUAL Asset:
+44 (0)20 7337 8775