If you accept the role of executor of an estate, you take on certain legal responsibilities.

After the payment of estate debts, the primary obligation of an executor is the transfer of the assets of the deceased to the beneficiaries named in the Will.

But what happens if a beneficiary can’t be found?

The executor has an obligation to locate the missing beneficiary.

The types of enquiries an executor may carry out will depend on the size of the gift and the costs involved.

If, after reasonable enquiries have been made, the beneficiary still cannot be found, an executor might consider seeking the protection of an order of the Court.

The Court is able to make an order allowing an executor to distribute the estate to the known beneficiaries.

The Court order protects the executor for the distribution if the missing beneficiary ever turns up to “reclaim” their gift.

Applying to the Court can be an expensive exercise.

If your executor has no family connection with any of the beneficiaries, keeping an up to date record of their contact details can be of great assistance to your executor – as well as saving your estate unnecessary costs.