When a beneficiary cannot be found – What you can do?

When a beneficiary cannot be found – What you can do?

When a beneficiary cannot be found – What you can do?

When a person dies their possessions and assets form an ‘estate’ this estate must then be distributed to the beneficiaries of the deceased. Here Tracing Direct will go through some of the steps involved in finding beneficiaries, and what you can do in the instances where beneficiaries are not able to be found.

The deceased has left an estate – Who is responsible for finding the beneficiaries?

The personal representatives of the deceased persons estate will be responsible for finding beneficiaries. The estate could include money, possessions, property, or a combination of all three.

If there is a will in place –

When a personal representative is named in a will, they are called the executor. In some instances there may be more than one executor. The executor(s) will need to locate the correct beneficiaries to inherit the assets left by the deceased.

If there is not a will in place –

If the deceased has died intestate (without leaving a valid will). In these instances, one or more ‘entitled’ relatives of the deceased can apply to become administrators of the estate by taking out a grant of representation, thus giving them the role of personal representative. This is often the deceased’s closest living relative such as a husband or wife. After which it would again be the role of the personal representative to identify all correct beneficiaries entitled to inherit the intestate’s estate.

Sometimes, when a will is left, it does not cover all of the assets in the deceased’s estate, this is called partial intestacy. It is important to consider whether the whole estate has been accounted for when initially assessing the will.

Making a considered effort to locate beneficiaries

Personal representatives (executors) are deemed responsible for the distribution of an estate to entitled beneficiaries. It is important to ensure that all beneficiaries are located to the best of the executors ability. If they fail to do so, and a beneficiary comes forward later, then the executor could become personally liable for compensating the beneficiary to the sum of their share of the estate.

Locating missing beneficiaries – Next steps

In order to find missing beneficiaries, the personal representative can carry out some initial investigations by enquiring with friends and family. This can often lead to some success in finding beneficiaries that may have already been named. If the deceased left a will, this level of enquiry can often be the end of the investigation. However if the deceased died intestate then there can, and often are, further and more in-depth investigations required.

At this stage we recommend taking the opportunity to utilise the knowledge and expertise of a genealogy company who specialise in locating beneficiaries such as Tracing Direct Ltd. We will assist in all aspects of compiling and documenting relevant paperwork to prove a persons correct entitlement to an estate including birth, marriage, and death certificates as proof of entitlement.

To find out more, or to get professional advice, contact Tracing Direct Ltd now on

UK: 0800 0431 793 | International: 0044 2920 349810

Email us at:


Write to us at: Tracing Direct, Pendeen House, Prospect Place, Cardiff, CF11 0AW

About the author
With over 15 years experience in the field of digital media and graphic communication, Emma has worked across broad spectrum of roles in the creative industries. She now specialises in consulting for independent businesses, providing digital and physical media support. Assisting in elevating and deepening the relationship between businesses and clients by enabling them to...