At Wilson & Fish, our specialist solicitors assist clients across Scotland on a wide variety of executry (probate) issues. Identifying and finding beneficiaries of an estate can be challenging for various reasons – the deceased may not have fully identified them, names may have changed, and indeed you may be dealing with an intestate estate. Our solicitors can assist in locating beneficiaries so that the overall executry process is not unnecessarily delayed.
Testate Estates (The Deceased Left a Will)
If the Will is properly drafted, the full names of beneficiaries and their addresses will be provided. This will provide enough information to accurately identify the beneficiary, although it may be necessary to consult public records to find them (such as marriage records if a beneficiary has changed their name). Our solicitors are highly experienced in quickly and efficiently identifying beneficiaries in this manner. Once identified, we will make every effort to locate and contact the beneficiary. If necessary, we can engage a specialist to trace the beneficiary.
Difficulties might arise where the deceased has not adequately described the beneficiary. For example, they may have left a legacy to "my friend John". Executors can only follow through instructions in the Will if they are sufficiently clear. If the identity of the beneficiary is ambiguous, it is advisable to contact a solicitor.
Similarly, executors must be careful to properly interpret a Will where the deceased has named a group of beneficiaries – for example, “My estate is to be shared among my children”. In this case, the executor might be unsure whether this encompasses stepchildren, children of close partners, or adult offspring as well as younger children. Our solicitors can advise on all practical steps you will need to take to identify all of the beneficiaries (so that, for example, children from previous relationships are not excluded) as well as the legal rules which apply to such situations.
Clients are increasingly using the process of writing their Wills to leave a charitable donation. Most Wills name a particular charity but also specify, in the event that that charity no longer exists, the executors can donate to a similar charity. Our solicitors can advise on administering charitable legacies and in identifying alternatives if it is not possible to donate to the deceased's named charity.
We have written elsewhere on our website about the legal rules which determine the beneficiaries of intestate estates, where the deceased died without leaving a Will. Essentially, the estate passes to the deceased’s spouse or civil partner in the first instance, or, if this does not apply, to the closest living relative. It is important that the executor correctly identifies who should benefit. Even if the deceased was estranged from particular family members, it might be necessary to find their details and contact them.
Contact Our Executry Lawyers Glasgow, Scotland
If you require assistance in identifying or locating beneficiaries under a Will or an intestate estate, or would like to discuss any other executry matters, please contact us by telephone on 0141 222 7951 or via our online enquiry form.