Adrian Corbould: Missing beneficiaries, what does that mean to you as an executor? I’m Adrian Corbould, Accredited Specialist, Wills & Estates, Turnbull Hill Lawyers for the Battle of Wills series.
An executor has a
pretty much daunting and thankless task. They have to gather in the assets,
distribute them to all the beneficiaries pretty much without any error. If they
make an error in not including and not paying particular people who should have
received something, they can be held personally accountable. Meaning they have
to pay personally from their own money, not from the estate because that money
There’s no real
insurance policy for that other than what’s known as a Benjamin Order. A
Benjamin Order is a specific order issued by the court, on application by an
executor or administrator, to seal off all categories of beneficiary. This
happens mostly in intestate estates where there’s no Will, for example, there’s
no spouse, there’s no children and it all goes to someone’s siblings. What if
those siblings are overseas? What if those overseas siblings had children but
the administrator has no idea who they are, where they can be contacted, how to
find them, whether they even exist?
Someone could come back in three years and make a claim, and that executor could be financially wiped out. What they should do is get a Benjamin Order. However, those Benjamin Orders can be expensive, time-consuming and they cost the estate a substantial amount of money, which then costs the beneficiaries. Ways to minimise this is to have a valid Will that is specific as to the beneficiaries, the class of beneficiaries, and provide some information, if known, as to contact details.
That’s all for today, hope that was of some use. Look forward to talking to you again next time.