Is there a time limit can be placed upon a beneficiary to arrange to collect / remove a gift of goods?
Gift in the Will is household goods including garden and garage tools and contents.
Named beneficiary not in position to receive; certainly not quickly, and likely not at all.
Executor has a buyer proceeding on the property and wants the goods cleared.
My initial thought is there should be some reasonable time to allow a beneficiary to make arrangements. (The death was in November 2017). Alternatively if executor / residuary beneficiary in this case wants the house cleared they should remove the goods carefully to secure storage at their own cost and allow reasonable time for the beneficiary to collect or formally decline.
Alternatively perhaps the executor might agree a cash settlement with the recipient of the gift in exchange for the goods to be cleared as the executor directs.
The underlying question must be: does the beneficiary want the chattels?
If the answer is “no” then will they authorise the executor to arrange their sale (the costs of which to be deducted from the sale proceeds)? Hopefully, the executor can arrange for someone to view who would be able to provide an indication of realisable value to help inform the beneficiary.
However, if the beneficiary wants to keep all, or some, of the chattels, then I agree they should be given a reasonable period in which to remove them. Whilst “reasonable” should take into account the beneficiary’s own circumstances, it must also take into account the negative effect that the chattels remaining at the property will have upon a sale, and the timing of completion. Whilst it might be inconvenient for the beneficiary, personally, to collect the chattels, is there any reason they cannot authorise someone to collect them on their behalf.
If the executor needs to arrange for the chattels to be put into store, ready for collection, the beneficiary will either need to pay the storage charges with a deposit up front), or the executor will need to stipulate that they will be stored for a limited period only and if not collected within the specified time frame will be sold and the proceeds used to defray the storage charges. Ideally, the beneficiary should pay the storage charges in any event.
In the absence of a response from the beneficiary, the executor will have a duty to preserve the chattels and should probably arrange to put them into store. It is probably far too early to be able to allege a disclaimer of the gift by conduct.
I would be reluctant to try and agree a cash settlement with the beneficiary without the informed consent of the residuary beneficiaries.
We will seek instructions to write to the beneficiary to establish the definitive position / issue disclaimer to encourage a prompt decision.
It is noted regarding cash settlement and costs of removal / storage.
Topic of storage charges to be raised subsequently only if necessary.