Protecting the Personal Representatives and Beneficiaries when someone dies

Melanie Christodoulou

Senior Associate

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September 7, 2016

Categories Wills and Inheritance

When someone dies, personal representatives (“PRs”) act in the administration of their estate.  A PR is termed “an Executor” (if they are appointed under the last Will of the deceased) or “an Administrator” (if there is no valid Will or, if there is such a Will, there is no executor named in it who is alive, able and willing to act in that role).

When someone dies leaving a Will, the Executors named in the Will must follow the directions of the Will to fulfil their legal obligations as PR and ensure that all the named beneficiaries in the Will receive their inheritance.

However, when someone dies without making a Will (i.e. intestate), their PRs are exposed to more risk as the assets of the deceased pass under the rules of intestacy (a set of inheritance rules).  Greater risk is also involved if the PRs are unsure as to the extent of the deceased’s assets and liabilities at their date of death.

The steps outlined below can help reduce the risks for PRs when someone dies, whether with a Will or Intestate.  These measures are a cost to the estate as opposed to a cost to the PR personally.  As is the case whenever managing risk, it is necessary to assess the risk involved and to compare that with the cost of any protective action.

If you are a PR, the protective action which you can take includes:

  1. Missing Will search – searching for a Will on the national Will register, locally and through advertisements;
  2. Missing asset search – searching for whether the deceased had lost, dormant or unknown assets;
  3. Section 27 notice – protection from possible creditors and missing beneficiaries by placing a notice in the London Gazette and local newspaper close to where the deceased lived;
  4. Missing Will insurance – protection against the possibility of a missing Will;
  5. Missing beneficiary indemnity insurance – protection against missing beneficiaries if there is a small risk of untraced illegitimate children or mistakes in the historical record; and
  6. Unknown creditor indemnity insurance – protection if there is doubt or concern about whether the section 27 notice was sufficient to inform all potential creditors to the estate.

If you would like to discuss any of the above measures, please contact Solicitor, Melanie Christodoulou, of our Private Client, Trusts and Estates Team on 01227 763939 or email