Missing Beneficary

I am hoping for some words of wisdom.

I have an intestacy (died 2009). Gentleman was abandoned in the car park of the local hospital. He was from Malta and allegedly brought over to the UK by his son and wife, assaulted and abandoned. No police action taken as far as I am aware. Social Services asked me to act as Attorney, which I did. He died a short while later.

After years of searching we have been able to establish that wife is deceased and have been given the name of son. However even using genealogists to search, no address for son located although they believe he is in the UK. Have used DWP forwarding service to write to him twice but no reply but our letters haven’t been returned either.

Deceased also had a brother in Malta that we have been in contact with – he has no contact with his nephew and does not want to have anything to do with him.

We looked at Missing Beneficiary insurance with a view to distributing to brother but have been told that the premium would be £500 at least. The estate is only a few thousand pounds. Benjamin Order would also be prohibitively expensive and I don’t believe you can pay into court without some sort of order. Brother is not happy to provide an indemnity himself and is not interested in being involved.

Any suggestions?

Kathryn Sykes
Pickup & Scott

I have dealt with a couple of intestate estates where there are known but untraced beneficiaries. It is possible to make a payment to the Court Funds Office once authority has been obtained from the RCJ (request for deposit under Trustee Act 1925). It is a relatively simple process (assuming the process has not changed in the last couple of years).

An affidavit reciting what has happened including the details of the persons entitled to take a share in the estate under the intestacy rules and what steps have been taken to find the missing beneficiaries needs to be sworn by the PR and submitted to the RCJ together with form CFO103. If accepted by the RCJ the CFO will send a form to enable the funds to be deposited (Form CFO 100, I think).

Sarah Arundel
Taylor Fawcett

1 Like

Where you have had no response from the son through the DWP if you know there address have you ever thought of employing a retired police officer to go and knock on the door and see if they can get the person to supply you with the necessary documents to provide their connection and their ID.

As a director of a genealogist this is something that we have used a couple of times, and in some cases have actually succeeded in getting the beneficiary to contact us, or even for the retired police officer to obtain confirmation of the persons ID.

I know it sounds a bit draconion, but it sometimes works, and if the estate can stand the expense, at least you can distribute the estate, and not pay the money into court. Failing that if they do not want to accept the money you may be able to get a deed of renouncement, that way you can then pay the money to his brother in Malta, again saves paying the money into court, and may be a bit longer in sorting out but it will close it off once and for all.

David Griffiths
A2Z Probate Research Ltd

I’m not sure how this situation arose, but fear that the missing details
should directly affect how matters are taken forward.

From the initial post, it seems that Kathryn was appointed Attorney
[suggesting the deceased then had capacity] but died shortly thereafter. If
so any client relationment would have ceased on death, ie Kathryn/her firm
have been acting since 2009 without any client capable of giving
instructions to them, let alone authorising payment of any costs and
expenses incurred by them …

It would be natural to try to contact family and/or executors, but how far
should one go - eg in this case should one start by researching Maltese
law, this seeming to be the law of domicile of the deceased, to ascertain
who may be entitled to administer the estate, with or without a Will?

The original post also suggests that Kathryn/her firm had control of
available funds, perhaps held as attorney in solicitors client account(?)
[no mention has been made of any Grant of Representation nor any
entitlement to such]. If so, perhaps she could authorise [and agree to pay
for] a funeral pending contact from family etc - although should keep this
cost to the minimum to avoid any risk of beneficiaries holding her
personally responsible for “excess” costs; provided that reasonable funeral
expenses are a priority under any Maltese or other law that may be
applicable, as under our law.

Subject to these initial points, I feel matters should have been referred
to the bona vacantia departments long ago.

In hindsight, what do other forum members consider should be done by
professional attorneys whose instructions have been terminated on the death
of the donor?

Kevin Mullen