Step 4 - Identifying the beneficiaries
Finding the beneficiaries
Part of your role as an Executor / Administrator is to ensure that all of the beneficiaries named in the Will are located. As previously mentioned, if there is not a current, valid Will then the Rules of Intestacy will apply.
It is usual to send a letter and a copy of the Will to all of the beneficiaries to let them know what their entitlement is. It is also advisable to ask for identification, such as photo ID and a copy of a recent utility bill.
Using MyDigiExecutor allows you to keep track of all beneficiaries by creating a beneficiary worksheet. This will enable you to keep all of their details together for when you distribute the estate. There is also more information on how to locate missing beneficiaries, beneficiaries under 18 years old, Bankrupt beneficiaries and vulnerable beneficiaries.
If a beneficiary has died, then you need to look to the Will for any provision. If the beneficiary was a child, grandchild or remoter descendant of the deceased then the law states that their share automatically passes to their children, this is unless there is any wording within a Will to stop this from happening, for example “but if he dies before me then his share will pass to his own children”.
If the beneficiary died within 28 days (or a different period if specified in the Will) of the deceased, then it could well be considered that they died first for distribution purposes. If they died after the 28 days, then the beneficiary would still be entitled to their share or gift and it will now form part of their own estate.
Evidence is required to prove that every attempt has been made to locate any missing beneficiaries; which could mean employing the services of a professional. However, this can become expensive and it is worth you conducting thorough searches first.
Beneficiary under 18 years old
If there are beneficiaries who are under the age of 18 years old, or under the vesting age stated in the Will, then their share of the inheritance will need to be held in trust for them until they reach a specific age; usually 18, 21 or 25 years old. You will need to ensure suitable Trustees (this could be yourself) are instructed to look after the inheritance until that time.
If a beneficiary is bankrupt, then their share will need to be dealt with in a different way and would be due to be paid towards the debt. It is advisable to get professional advice regarding this.
In some cases, there may be vulnerable beneficiaries who are unable to deal with substantial amounts of money they are due to inherit. It is your responsibility to ensure that the inheritance is managed and looked after correctly for the beneficiary.