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Will beneficiary - is there a time limit on claiming?

(3 Posts)
TheHouseofMirth Thu 13-Oct-11 17:21:54

I have reason to believe I may have been a beneficiary in a relative's will and I am wondering if here is a time limit on beneficiaries claiming money they have been left and/or on how long executors must make reasonable efforts to trace and contact beneficiaries?

Angel786 Thu 13-Oct-11 21:58:19

Hi - the usual statute of limitations is 6 years but as I'm not a probate lawyer it may be different for wills (I remember hearing 12 years at law school many moons ago?).

Hopefully a probate lawyer will be along soon, else citizens advice might be a good start.

emsyj Thu 13-Oct-11 22:33:10

Do you know roughly when and where the relative died? Get a copy of the grant of probate from the local probate registry (if you ring them they will tell you how to do a search - it's not expensive) and it will have a copy of the will attached to it and details of the extracting solicitor (if a solicitor was used to administer the estate).

Beneficiaries named in a Will cannot be passed over in the way that an unknown creditor can. There are some ways in which executors can deal with missing beneficiaries (such as insuring against the risk that they later come forward, paying the money into court, obtaining a court order authorising distribution of the estate etc) but they are fairly limited. It would be usual for the executors to either use a tracing agent to find the beneficiary (if the gift is sizeable) or to put the money to one side in case they came forward. If you were only left £100 though, they may take a view that they will just pay you if you come forward.

The applicability of limitation periods to missing beneficiary scenarios (i.e. where the beneficiary is named in the Will but the executors can't locate him/her) is complex. And I don't really understand it. So I won't even attempt to say anything about it!
<makes mental note to read about it in case client ever brings it up....>

The answer here is to get a copy of the will from the probate registry and find out one way or the other.

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