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LondonlawyerJ
LondonlawyerJ, Advocate
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 803
Experience:  Solicitor with over 15 years experience.
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my mother died recently i have 3 brothers, 1 however has had

Customer Question

my mother died recently i have 3 brothers, 1 however has had no contact with the family for a large number of years, i haven't seen or spoken to him in 29 years, however i think my mother had contact in that time but not for a considerable number of years. is there a responsibility to find him for his share of a very small amount of money?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  LondonlawyerJ replied 3 years ago.

LondonlawyerJ :

Hello I am a solicitor with over 15 years experience I will try to help you with this.

LondonlawyerJ :

Can you tell me what his share of the estate is please? What steps have you taken to try and locate him?

JACUSTOMER-rt00lqy6- :

He would be entitled to 25% as there are 4 of us.

LondonlawyerJ :

Sorry I mean how much money?

JACUSTOMER-rt00lqy6- :

Between£2-3000

LondonlawyerJ :

And what have you done to find him?

JACUSTOMER-rt00lqy6- :

We have asked police if any trace apart from that we dont even knoe what area he lives in

LondonlawyerJ :

OK thankyou for that. I have a meeting due to start in a few minutes but I will answer you later today. I hope that is OK.

JACUSTOMER-rt00lqy6- :

Fine i am at work pm today so wont be able to answer any questions untill this evening

LondonlawyerJ :

This is quite an old problem and there is law on this going back 450 years. The answer is that uo will need to do carry out some more research I am afraid. If you know where he was last living you could consider putting an advert in the local paper, if you know what his trade or profession was you could contact any trade/professional body to try to locate him. You cod instruct a missing heir service but this is likely to be disproportionate in this case.

The principle is that where a trustee is confronted with a missing beneficiary the first step will need to be the undertaking of enquiries which should be as extensive as is proportionate to the value of the estate and interests concerned. It would not be worth going to court to get an order on a bequest of this size but you may want to consider taking out missing beneficiary insurance. In order to get insurance you will need to have taken out enquiries the results of such enquiries will be of interest to the insurers.

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The essential point is that there is no general presumption upon which a practitioner can rely by default. If he re-appears and makes a claim then every case could be considered by the Court on its own facts and the inferences which may be drawn from the absence of any evidence are by no means consistent in every case. If you have taken reasonable steps to find him then you might well be able to fend off his claim and if you had insurance then you would have no worries at all. Whether it is worth taking out insurance for this sum is up to you but you might think it is not proportionate.

You also have a duty not to overspend on this heir to the detriment of the other beneficiaries.

If you are confident of your ability to pay the money that was due to your brother if he does re-appear at some point and the willingness of he other beneficiaries to contribute fairly if this happens then you might think that it is not something to worry about beyond carrying out some further enquiries. As suggested above.

I hope this answer is helpful but please feel free to ask further questions.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

would we need to evidence any search we made?