Beneficiary refusing to respond and/or accept inheritance?

I am currently working on an estate where the main residuary beneficiary is an estranged son, living in the Caribbean, who no one has actually seen or even spoken to on the telephone in at least a decade.

I have written to the Beneficiary at an e-mail address and postal address provided to me by his cousin (one of the executors) and he has written back (once by e-mail). Despite repeated requests, however, he has neither confirmed if he intends to accept his inheritance (during his mother’s lifetime he refused various monetary gifts she attempted to give him, include a valuable pension policy she set up for him so it’s been suggested that he may disclaim his inheritance) or provide me with legalised/notarised identification documents (I’m personally still not convinced he is who he says he is!).

This is a chargeable estate and at the moment if he does intend to accept his inheritance I should be in a position to apply for the additional RNRB as part of the residue includes the family home. If he does not accept the inheritance, however, then his share is divided equally amongst his cousins.

My questions are:

  1. Should I apply for the Grant and submit my IHT400 on the basis that he will accept his inheritance (applying for RNRB) so that we can get the property sold (it’s already got a purchaser lined up) and then pay the additional IHT if son disclaims at a later date? I assume there will be interest to pay on the unpaid IHT?

  2. How long should I wait to hear back from the son, particularly given the interest that will accrue on the unpaid IHT?

  3. What more can I do to get him to confirm whether or not he is going to accept the inheritance given that we have other beneficiaries lined up if he’s not?!?

Any advice would be very much appreciated!

Kristen Woods
Sousa Law

Apply for the grant as usual. Administer the estate. If he will not get in touch use a tracing agency. If no luck pay into court.

Simon Northcott

I suggest you engage a law firm local to the estranged son to visit him in order to both verify his identity and to establish if he intends to accept, or disclaim, the inheritance.

In the meantime, I see no real reason to delay applying for the grant on the basis the son will continue to be entitled until, or unless, he disclaims. As you say, should he disclaim the additional IHT can then be paid.

Mindful of the current state of the property market, if you have a sale in prospect at a “good” price, you could be criticised for allowing it to lapse if a lesser price is achieved on the eventual sale.

Paul Saunders

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At Anglia Research, we have our own dedicated Caribbean research office. We would be happy to make further enquiries on your behalf.

Philip Turvey
Anglia Research Services