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Awkward beneficiaries!

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  • Awkward beneficiaries!

    I know some of this has been covered in other threads, but would be grateful if someone could take a glance and confirm (or otherwise) that the executors in this case are acting reasonably. I will try and be brief, and will therefore list the facts to avoid unnecessary blurb!

    1.Deceased passed away a few years ago but probate was blocked via several caveats by a non beneficiary! Eventually they gave up entering caveats.¬*
    2. Probate eventually granted. Will lists a few pecuniary beneficiaries (a charity (£200) and ten small (less than £100 each) amounts to family members. The residual amount to go to an eleventh family member.
    3. Only five of the pecuniary family beneficiaries have been located.
    4. The whereabouts of the five who have not been traced are known to at least two of those that HAVE been found, but they are not providing the addresses (not replying to messages or verbal requests)
    5. FYI adverts were placed in the Gazette and local newspaper, inviting claimants to come forward. No one came forward.¬*
    6. There IS one more family member who possibly knows where the untraced beneficiaries are, but that is the person who tried to block probate (whilst they were incarnated on a non related issue). Neither executor is comfortable in having any contact with this individual. This is due to other issues in the past, including but not limited to intimidation and harassment by this person towards the executors. In the past, the police have had to be called several times with regard to the intimidation experienced as a result of interaction with this person, and the executors do not feel safe in approaching this person.


    My questions (as a co executor) are:-

    1. Given the amounts to the five untraced pecuniary beneficiaries are so small, is it safe to go ahead and distribute the rest of the estate (including the residual), leaving their unclaimed portion in the joint executors bank account (if so, how long do we have to keep it, and what happens to it after that period, if still unclaimed)
    2. With regard to those who HAVE been located, it is assumed that as they are are pecuniary beneficiaries, the law does not require that they are furnished with accounts. Since the Will is in the public domain, they can search for that and view it if they want, of course.¬*
    3. Assuming it is safe to distribute the small amounts to the five beneficiaries who have been located, and the executors do so via a "signed for" letter/cheque, from past experience, it is extremely unlikely that the recipients will sign and return any acknowledgement that the cheques have been received, and I doubt they will even bank them. Obviously if they don't bank the monies, then it will sit in the executors account, but does it matter that they don't return any acknowledgement that they have received the cheques? (i.e. will a proof of delivery be sufficient to prove the executors acted reasonably?)
    4. Have the executors acted reasonably in their attempt to locate the missing beneficiaries? (i.e. ads placed in papers, physically spoken to two of the siblings of the missing beneficiaries and written to one of those two (with written confirmation from them that the request has been received and that they ARE in contact with at least one of the missing siblings, even though they have not provided the executors with the requested information). FYI, the missing beneficiaries have also blocked the executors on social media. The money it would cost to have them professionally "tracked down" would outweigh the amount of their inheritance by far!¬*
    5. Given the situation with regard to the other person who may know the location of the missing beneficiaries (see "6" above), is it reasonable that the executors have sufficiently tried to locate the missing people, without having to contact this individual who, (in the opinion of the executors), would most likely not provide the information in any case.¬*
    6.¬*Since Probate has been granted some time ago and the executors are keen to administer it as far as possible, what other challenges are possible from either the beneficiaries that have been located, those that haven't, and the one family member who tried to block probate via entering caveats who is not a beneficiary anyway. It may help you to know that the deceased passed away some five years ago, and probate was granted about a year and a half after that.¬*


    ALL (with a couple of exceptions, listed below) of the above beneficiaries (and the family member who is not a beneficiary), have been incredibly unhelpful thus far, with cleverly worded public posts on the internet (falling just shy of actual libel) including, amongst other things, ¬*accusing one of the executors of all sorts and inciting strangers to suggest that the executors be burnt via means of a firebomb. The police were involved but couldn't do anything due to the clever wording of the posts.¬*
    The charity and one of the family members (who is one that does NOT know the location of the missing ones) were not involved in the above mentioned intimidation.¬*

    I look forward to any advice you could give, as the executors are feeling very intimidated and stressed.
    (on preview, I note that some of my sentences are suffixed with an "A*", I have no idea why this is and I am afraid I don't know how to stop it, sorry!)



    ¬*
    Tags: None

  • #2
    Originally posted by crazyswede View Post

    My questions (as a co executor) are:-

    1. Given the amounts to the five untraced pecuniary beneficiaries are so small, is it safe to go ahead and distribute the rest of the estate (including the residual), leaving their unclaimed portion in the joint executors bank account (if so, how long do we have to keep it, and what happens to it after that period, if still unclaimed)Indefinitely¬*keep a reserve fund equal to the amount the missing beneficiary is due to receive. Distribute the rest
    2. With regard to those who HAVE been located, it is assumed that as they are are pecuniary beneficiaries, the law does not require that they are furnished with accounts. Since the Will is in the public domain, they can search for that and view it if they want, of course.¬* Yes
    3. Assuming it is safe to distributYese the small amounts to the five beneficiaries who have been located, and the executors do so via a "signed for" letter/cheque, from past experience, it is extremely unlikely that the recipients will sign and return any acknowledgement that the cheques have been received, and I doubt they will even bank them. Obviously if they don't bank the monies, then it will sit in the executors account, but does it matter that they don't return any acknowledgement that they have received the cheques? (i.e. will a proof of delivery be sufficient to prove the executors acted reasonably?) Send the cheques first class post with a free certificate of posting from post office. It will be deemed delivered within two days and the recipient will have to prove they never received the cheque if they wish to challenge the matter
    4. Have the executors acted reasonably in their attempt to locate the missing beneficiaries? (i.e. ads placed in papers, physically spoken to two of the siblings of the missing benefi¬* at least one of the missing siblings, even though they have not provided the executors with the requested information). FYI, the missing beneficiaries have also blocked the executors on social media. The money it would cost to have them professionally "tracked down" would outweigh the amount of their inheritance by far!¬* Yes
    5. Given the situation with regard to the other person who may know the location of the missing beneficiaries (see "6" above), is it reasonable that the executors have sufficiently tried to locate the missing people, without having to contact this individual who, (in the opinion of the executors), would most likely not provide the information in any case.¬* Just write to this individual requesting the information, again 1st class with free certificate of posting. No need to contact him any other way and if he becomes abusive deal with it appropriately
    6.¬*Since Probate has been granted some time ago and the executors are keen to administer it as far as possible, what other challenges are possible from either the beneficiaries that have been located, those that haven't, and the one family member who tried to block probate via entering caveats who is not a beneficiary anyway. It may help you to know that the deceased passed away some five years ago, and probate was granted about a year and a half after that.¬* Don't forget interest is payable on cash legacies paid after 12 months after death. Current rate 0.1% pa


    ALL (with a couple of exceptions, listed below) of the above beneficiaries (and the family member who is not a beneficiary), have been incredibly unhelpful thus far, with cleverly worded public posts on the internet (falling just shy of actual libel) including, amongst other things, ¬*accusing one of the executors of all sorts and inciting strangers to suggest that the executors be burnt via means of a firebomb. The police were involved but couldn't do anything due to the clever wording of the posts.¬*
    The charity and one of the family members (who is one that does NOT know the location of the missing ones) were not involved in the above mentioned intimidation.¬*

    I look forward to any advice you could give, as the executors are feeling very intimidated and stressed.
    (on preview, I note that some of my sentences are suffixed with an "A*", I have no idea why this is and I am afraid I don't know how to stop it, sorry!)



    ¬*
    Responses in red

    As a matter of interest did you effect an executor's liability policy?

    Ignore the A*... there's a glitch in the system which admin is trying hard to clear

    ¬*

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by des8 View Post
      Responses in red

      As a matter of interest did you effect an executor's liability policy?

      Ignore the A*... there's a glitch in the system which admin is trying hard to clear

      ¬*
      Thanks so much for your quick response.
      We had not thought about the interest payable on legacies paid after 12 months, so thank you for that. Is the interest calculated from the date of death, the date probate was granted or??? Additionally, is it compounded year on year (the deceased passed away in 2016)
      We will go ahead and distribute, leaving an amount equal to the sum of the monies for the missing beneficiaries, plus I guess an additional amount for the inflation that accrues.
      Was hoping not to have to contact the person who kept blocking probate, especially as I consider I have been harassed by this person in the past, and the police, after issuing a P.I.N, said that the best way to prove a course of action is to absolutely not engage with that person. Maybe as an executor, rather than "myself", a letter to him will not be deemed as "me" making contact (perhaps you could advise?). I should state that the law does not prevent me from contacting him, although in the past, the law HAS prevented him from contacting me.¬*

      Lastly, no, the executors have not got a liability policy. Perhaps we should have? Is it too late to get one?
      The reason we didn't, was firstly because neither executor foresaw that this job would be so awkward. Secondly, the estate is tiny (< £150K), and I guess we thought that the need simply wasn't there.¬*
      Last edited by crazyswede; 3rd February 2020, 14:36:PM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Interest is payable from 12 months after date of death, and is compounded.

        Re contacting the awkward one, unfortunately the executors have a responsibility to take all reasonable steps to discover all beneficiaries.
        You believe this person may have the contact details you have not been able to find elsewhere, so IMO you have little option but approach him.

        Regarding executors liability policy, sorry but I am not an underwriter! You could ask around and see what insurers say.¬*¬*

        Comment


        • #5
          Could a third party contact the awkward individual on your behalf making it clear they only wish to act as intermediary between the pair of you to facilitate this request and transfer of details?
          COMPLETING AN N180 DIRECTIONS QUESTIONNAIRE (SMALL CLAIMS TRACK) GUIDE

          My posts here are based on my experience of a variety of life events. I have no formal legal training & if in doubt take professional legal advice or contact CAB. If you follow anything I write here you do so at your own risk & I accept no liability for any loss, costs or other outcomes.

          Private messages are disabled as help is only offered publicly. I do not come on here in the evening, at weekends or on public holidays.

          Comment


          • #6
            Further to all the above, have been doing more looking!

            You could advertise and search in accordance with s27 Trustee Act 1925 (TA 1925). This means placing advertisements in the London Gazette and in newspapers circulating nearest to where the missing beneficiaries were last known to be living.

            You¬*should also consider applying to the court for a Benjamin Order.
            In Re Benjamin (1902), the testator left a residuary gift to someone who had disappeared nine months before the testator died. Despite advertisements having been made, the beneficiaryís whereabouts remained unknown and the court permitted distribution of the estate on the basis that the beneficiary had predeceased the testator. If you are authorised to distribute the missing beneficiaries' legacies¬* as part of the residuary estate you are protected as personal representatives. If the missing beneficiaries then turn up they could in theory pursue the residuary beneficiaries for their shares

            Alternatively,you might be able to effect an insurance policy indemnifying you against liability if you were to be sued by the missing beneficiaries. This could be just as effective as a Benjamin Order and incur less costs.

            Another alternative would be for you to seek an indemnity from the residuary beneficiaries who may be being overpaid. This would be the most cost effective method.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by des8 View Post
              Further to all the above, have been doing more looking!

              You could advertise and search in accordance with s27 Trustee Act 1925 (TA 1925). This means placing advertisements in the London Gazette and in newspapers circulating nearest to where the missing beneficiaries were last known to be living.

              You¬*should also consider applying to the court for a Benjamin Order.
              In Re Benjamin (1902), the testator left a residuary gift to someone who had disappeared nine months before the testator died. Despite advertisements having been made, the beneficiaryís whereabouts remained unknown and the court permitted distribution of the estate on the basis that the beneficiary had predeceased the testator. If you are authorised to distribute the missing beneficiaries' legacies¬* as part of the residuary estate you are protected as personal representatives. If the missing beneficiaries then turn up they could in theory pursue the residuary beneficiaries for their shares

              Alternatively,you might be able to effect an insurance policy indemnifying you against liability if you were to be sued by the missing beneficiaries. This could be just as effective as a Benjamin Order and incur less costs.

              Another alternative would be for you to seek an indemnity from the residuary beneficiaries who may be being overpaid. This would be the most cost effective method.
              Belated thanks for the above post. In this case, the residual beneficiary is not the one that is missing, its the pecuniary ones. Since last writing, I have found a social media business page for one of them (I am blocked on their personal page). I have sent a message via the business page and that has gone unread. I have re-texted one of the ones I DID manage to locate - and despite the fact that he has answered me late last year on that same number (although not giving me the addresses of his missing siblings - who I 100% believe he knows where they are), the text also went unanswered. The total amount involved concerning the missing beneficiaries is £200. Its ridiculous !
              Last edited by crazyswede; 17th February 2020, 12:16:PM. Reason: correction of spelling error

              Comment


              • #8
                In these circumstances I would put a notice in the Gazette (¬*https://www.thegazette.co.uk/wills-a...te/content/299) .Cost £84 which is payable by the estate.
                If you want to be extra nice you could email those members of the family whom you can contact, and ask them to¬*advise those other beneficiaries that if they don't get in touch their legacy will fall into the estate's residue and be distributed among the residuary beneficiaries
                Two months and one day later you can distribute.

                The other, cheaper alternative is just to distribute the money to the residuary beneficiaries after obtaining a signed indemnity.

                ¬*

                Comment


                • #9
                  A deceased estate notice was put in the gazette sometime ago (much more than two months and one day), which cost quite a bit more than that (so is it the same thing, since the price is so different?) . It has this wording at the end of it:-

                  __________________________________________________ _______________________________________
                  ¬* Legal information

                  Notice is hereby given pursuant to section 27 (Deceased Estates) of the Trustee Act 1925, that any person having a claim against or an interest in the estate of any of the deceased persons whose names and addresses are set out above is hereby required to send particulars in writing of his claim or interest to the person or persons whose names and addresses are set out above, and to send such particulars before the date specified in relation to that deceased person displayed above, after which date the personal representatives will distribute the estate among the persons entitled thereto having regard only to the claims and interests of which they have had notice and will not, as respects the property so distributed, be liable to any person of whose claim they shall not then have had notice.
                  __________________________________________________ ________________________________________

                  I therefore assume that no additional notice need be posted to satisfy "Section 27".¬*

                  Please excuse the "belt and braces" approach to this - this whole procedure has been ridiculously stressful, time consuming and tedious.¬*

                  An update, for anyone who might be so affected by "awkward beneficiaries", is that I have now managed to get hold of one more address (which covers three more pecuniary beneficiaries), and am therefore still missing two addresses. I have been told by one of the beneficiaries that I managed to engage with via text, that he has not personally contacted the two missing people but "they have been contacted", and they have apparently said they are not interested in receiving their inheritances.¬*

                  Assuming that the notice put in the gazette some time ago covers the section 27 business, which I think it does (please tell me if I am wrong), then it would seem safe to go ahead and distribute to all that I have addresses for, including the residuary beneficiary.¬*
                  Do you think a "second hand" assurance, as I have described above, that the two missing people are not interested in receiving their share is sufficient to allow the Executors to go ahead and distribute their share to the residuary beneficiary, perhaps with a letter included with the cheques to those whom we have addresses for, drawing their attention to the fact that the Section 27 business has been done, and since no claims were made, the monies which would have been paid to the missing people has already fallen into the estate residue (thus calling and end of all of this).

                  I am trying to guard against having to ever deal with this awful family again, and can just see these two leaving their tiny inheritances "in the pot" for years, just for the hell of it, and then coming forward in a few decades time, screaming that they want their money plus interest. As I have said before, the amounts are so tiny, that the actual £'s involved is small, but the executors just want it over with, with absolutely no loopholes!!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The Gazette is this one:¬*https://www.thegazette.co.uk/
                    Cost depends on what you purchase: Place a notice £70.00¬*+ VAT (per notice event) Include my logo or another image / URL: £63.50¬*+ VAT Printed voucher copy: £3.60 PDF voucher copy: £3.60¬*+ VAT Postal forwarding/PO Box service: £63.50¬*+ VAT Local newspaper notice: £215.00¬*+ VAT

                    As executor you seem to have¬*covered yourself, so if down the line these beneficiaries decide to make a claim it won't be against you but the beneficiaries to whom you distributed the funds. Just warn them of the possibility, and retain all paperwork!

                    If they don't wish to accept their legacies they might have the decency to tell you so you can distribute their shares without all this fuss
                    ¬*

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by des8 View Post
                      The Gazette is this one:¬*https://www.thegazette.co.uk/
                      Cost depends on what you purchase: Place a notice £70.00¬*+ VAT (per notice event) Include my logo or another image / URL: £63.50¬*+ VAT Printed voucher copy: £3.60 PDF voucher copy: £3.60¬*+ VAT Postal forwarding/PO Box service: £63.50¬*+ VAT Local newspaper notice: £215.00¬*+ VAT

                      As executor you seem to have¬*covered yourself, so if down the line these beneficiaries decide to make a claim it won't be against you but the beneficiaries to whom you distributed the funds. Just warn them of the possibility, and retain all paperwork!

                      If they don't wish to accept their legacies they might have the decency to tell you so you can distribute their shares without all this fuss
                      ¬*
                      Thankyou for your time and patience with me over this !
                      For the record, I AM the residuary beneficiary as well as being one of the executors. I need to cover myself twice over !
                      As for having any decency, the other beneficiaries haven't heard of that word, in my opinion !
                      The Gazette link that you gave me is the same one I used, I opted for the full works before, the highest cost one, so the section 27 is covered as far as I can see.¬*

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Seeing the additional info about your position, if it were I, I would just distribute and keep sufficient in my current account to pay the awkward mob if they ever demand their share.
                        It's not a fortune so not worth stressing over
                        Good luck

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by des8 View Post
                          Seeing the additional info about your position, if it were I, I would just distribute and keep sufficient in my current account to pay the awkward mob if they ever demand their share.
                          It's not a fortune so not worth stressing over
                          Good luck
                          Thanks Des, I have also sent you a PM on the matter. This site is awesome - legal matters are an absolute mine field to "Joe public", even on matters which on the face of it are simple and clear cut !

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            ...and the saga continues, even after I have sent out the letters and cheques to those members of the family that I was able to find!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Just let them waste their efforts being awkward.
                              Carry out your executor duties, and retain a little in case one of them pops up later.

                              Comment

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