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plclegal, Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 3170
Experience:  Barrister at law
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It’s regarding missing beneficiary not found until 13 years

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It’s regarding missing beneficiary not found until 13 years after probate is this out of limitations
JA: Estate laws vary by state. What state are you in?
Customer: Uk
JA: What documents or supporting evidence do you have?
Customer: Not needed
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Yes beneficiary and residue payments from the Will were paid out in 2006. One beneficiary couldn’t be found. That amount 10k was retained by solicitor administrating the will. We contacted that solicitor around 4 times by letter between 2007 and 2014 the evidence suggests each time we contacted them they conducted another missing beneficiary search. In nov 2018 I made various phone calls to the solicitor to get the file reopened and a decision made about the 10k still held on account. They did another search and found missing beneficiary - is this beneficiary still entitled to the 10k? As we assumed limitations had passed. Can we sue the solicitor for negligence holding onto 10k?

Hello, my name is ***** ***** I’ll do my best to assist you today.

Please bear in mind as this is an email service and not live chat I may not respond immediately.

I'm just reviewing your question.

My understanding is that the beneficiary would have 12 years to make their claim.

If the 12 years have passed, the executor should be able to distribute the funds between the remaining beneficiaries.

It should be possible to take out an insurance policy to cover the eventuality that the beneficiary does appear after the funds have been redistributed, so there would be nothing stopping this happening at this time.

I hope this assists?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
No because the beneficiary has been found - can we legally say they can't receive the money

Technically yes but things are never that clear cut. Why were they absent for so long? What attempts had been made to notify them of their share?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I already know the information you mention above I need an answer to my questions : 1. Do we need to legally pay the beneficiary? 2. Can we due the solicitor for holding onto the 10k beyond the 12 years

OK see my response above.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Missing beneficiary searches were done several time last time mentioned on accounts wax 2012 cost 125 each time - we triggered these searches by sending a letter to the solicitor each time
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
The solicitor when we contacted again in 2018 said the ability to trace missing beneficiary has improved significantly in last few years
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Will you only discuss with me if I pay more?
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I prefer chat than phone

Sorry the site offers that as an automated offer. I will chat for as long as needed to resolve this for you!

I' m not sure that the solicitor has acted negligently, to be honest.

Though the beneficiary's claim comes just out of time, my view is that due to the relatively low value of the inheritance, and the costs of potential legal proceedings, that the most straightforward answer is to honour the legacy of the will and allow the now located beneficiary to inherit.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
it's ok for them to hold 10k in their account indefinitely?
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Had we not continued to contact them it would just have sat there?
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
But solicitor wants 500 for dealing with this latest matter (the interest that has accrued) we get nothing!

No, it should then be distributed - but this process itself would have taken some time and you as remaining beneficiaries would also all have needed to agree the terms - i.e. personal indemnity/ insurance policies etc.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Surely solicitor breached their duty if care to those that get the residue when they could have taken an indemnity out
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
The beneficiary has no knowledge of the legacy and only had 12 years to make a claim which is well past
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
You should know that the will in question took 3-4 years to pay out and was hotglh contested
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
it's been 16-17 years since will was 'read'

I don't think it is a 'surely' case, no.

If you are going to pursue a claim for negligence against the solicitor for not acting immediately in notifying the beneficiaries after the 12 years had passed, I'm not sure it would succeed.

The key date is the probate date.

Are there other motivations for not wanting to pay out to this beneficiary?

Did the family really have no contact with them for 12+ years?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
We do not know the beneficiary he was an old associate of my grandfather who he hadn't seen for 20 or more years before his death
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
The probate date was 2005


If probate was 2005, then the 12 years have long expired obviously.

I again have to question the merit of proceedings though, given that the benefit to each beneficiary would presumably be only . share of the £10k outstanding.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Agree the amount is not large but this would go to my father who is now 78 and this is a large amount of money to him
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
I am hearing from you that we should accept the solicitor has not acted correctly and let them be paid 500 the beneficiary get the 10k and my father nothing - he was my grandfather's only child and got such a tiny payout the vast majority of estate going to many unknowns

How many beneficiaries were there?

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Around 20 then my father got residue

OK. So he would have received 1/20 share of the £10k, had it have been divided amongst the beneficiaries.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Why would it be divided amongst beneficiaries? They each had a stated amount on will?
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
My father just got residue after beneficiaries had received their payouts
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
all other expenses paid

My understanding is that if there was a missing beneficiary the funds would have then been distributed between all other known beneficiaries.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Gifts on wills often can fail - surely a limitations issue means
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
This lady gift fails
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Customer: replied 2 months ago.
falls into residue?

I don't think it does fall into residue, I would have expected it to be shared between the remaining beneficiaries.


I'm not sure there's much more I can say at this stage, I'm not giving the answer that you clearly want to hear.

Customer: replied 2 months ago.
Ok thanks for your help

No problem at all.

Kind regards.

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