As a solicitor acting as personal representative it’s your duty to work in your client’s interests, whilst safeguarding the interest of your firm.
There is an element of risk in intestacy cases whereby new/unknown beneficiaries make a claim after the assets have been distributed. Hence the reason you may decide to refer the case to a professional probate genealogist. Therein obtaining verified family trees and asset distribution schedules that will enable you to distribute the estate accordingly.
If you’ve decided to go it alone, here are some tips to help you find beneficiaries and minimise any risk to your company.
- You may know that the deceased was married but don’t assume that there were no other marriages prior to this.
- Common mistakes happen through making presumptions about the deceased e.g. ignoring the possibility off illegitimate children.
- Not only do you need to prove relationships but you need evidence to show the termination of family lines.
- Adopted children have the same rights as biological children but make sure you confirm the adoption and obtain documented evidence.
- Verify all the information you receive. If a friend or family member says that someone has died, or they had no children – check the facts for yourself.
- Ensure that beneficiaries are in fact blood relatives, having the same surname does not prove anything, always obtain supporting evidence.
- If the deceased was resident overseas, seek legal advice in that country.
- When you have identified heirs, the distribution of the estate can be complex. It is a common mistake to share assets equally when beneficiaries should have received different entitlements. At this stage, you may want to speak with a professional.
- Obtain a missing beneficiary insurance policy to safeguard yourself – you may need to get research verified in order to do this as you will have to demonstrate you have taken every step to minimise the risk of a claim.
If you need any help – Call us free on 0800 612 6105.