Often, in establishing an estate plan, designating the beneficiaries can be the easiest task. However, locating them after you pass away is not always easy. If an individual has children, the residual estate is almost always divided among the children. Sometimes, estates go to nieces and nephews, or brothers and sisters. While these people are generally life-long loved ones, they may live at a distance.
When a specific bequest or percentage of an estate is left to an individual with an unknown address, it is the Trustee or Executor’s duty to search for this person. The Trustee must engage in due diligence, in looking up last known addresses, speaking to people who may know or have seen them. Sometimes, this task can be quite daunting.
Just recently, a New York law firm hired a private investigator to search for a homeless Utah man who was to receive a sizable inheritance from his deceased brother. It had been about eight months since the family had spoken to him and about fifteen years since they had last seen the man. The private investigator engaged in a diligent search, spoke with the manager of a rescue home who spoke of where the man might be, and investigated every tip received. Finally after a two month search, the man was located in a park in Salt Lake City. With the inheritance from his brother, it is likely that he will be able to leave the streets, provide for himself and have a normal life.
Inheritance is a privilege and a blessing, it can be life changing and often unexpected. It may help a grandchild attend college or assist in the purchase of a home or in this case, it may be what someone needs for a new beginning.
To help ensure your beneficiaries will receive what you leave to them, it is a good idea to update their contact information and leave this information with your estate planning documents at home. If you have any questions regarding designating or changing your beneficiaries, please contact us.