Estate matters can be complex and even more so when there is a claim against the Estate or when a beneficiary is missing. An Executor has many duties when administering the Estate of a deceased person, one of which is to uphold the Will, which can be difficult even after searching high and low the beneficiaries of the Estate cannot be discovered.
So what do you do if you can’t locate a beneficiary? Short answer – you can apply to the Court for a Benjamin order.
A Benjamin order allows an executor to distribute an estate on the basis that the missing beneficiary has died before the deceased person. In order to seek a Benjamin order from the Court, you must show that you have made sufficient inquiries to find the missing beneficiary. Once the Court grants a Benjamin order, the executor is no longer liable if they distribute the Estate to whom they believe are the correct beneficiaries, even if the missing beneficiary is later found.
Suppose an executor distributes an estate contrary to the Will. In that case, they can open themselves up to litigation, so if there is a missing beneficiary in your matter, we recommend seeking advice on whether you should apply for a Benjamin Order. Similarly, if you think an executor has not distributed the Estate according to the Will, you may be eligible to make a claim against the Estate in certain circumstances and recommend seeking expert legal advice as soon as possible as there are time limits that apply.
At Chamberlains, we can provide assistance with both defending and contesting Wills. We can guide you through the entire process. From advising on your prospects, lodging or defending a claim, and seeking Benjamin Orders from the Court, we can get the job done.