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The worst treasure hunt – finding the assets of a deceased person

One of the first and crucial elements of the administration of the estate is locating all the assets of a deceased person. The responsibility for making comprehensive searches falls upon the Executor who could be held liable by a Beneficiary if not all assets are investigated, valued and collected by the Executor.

But where to start? Going through the personal papers of the deceased is the most practical and re-directing their mail to the Executor ensures they will receive future communications from any organisation with whom they may have assets. But with greater information can come greater confusion. Is the life assurance policy from 1976 still valid? Do they still have 300 shares in a company which may now have merged?

“Daunting” and “exhausting” are common words we hear from people who are trying to make sense of the affairs of another person, Frequently, people can be more careful with the affairs of another person than with their own as they feel acutely the responsibility to ensure they locate ALL assets however small.  The increasing use of of online banking, digital assets, subscriptions online also mean that papers records are now only a starting point but can no longer be considered a comprehensive search.

At Napthens we have witnessed the distress this can cause Executors and advise on additional searches to protect the Executor.  Searching the unclaimed assets register and professional association services such as My Lost Account help but can take a lot of time and increase costs. Napthens offers a solution after partnering with PSAS a formal probate asset search company. A search taking no longer than 28 days provides a full asset history which covers 95% of the regulated financial market. It includes a lost asset search and can trace assets in the name of the deceased at their last and previous addresses.

The PSAS platform includes a search of the unclaimed asset register holding 4,000,000.00 records of individual’s unclaimed monies. It can also include a will search and unknown debts. Bank and building society accounts, personal policies, life policies investment bonds, unit trusts, NS&I, occupational pensions and FTSE100 shareholdings are all detected on the asset search.

The main benefit for an Executor is the protection it affords. For a cost of less than one hour of a solicitor’s time the Executor can evidence that they have met and exceeded the duty of a comprehensive search that any reasonable person would make and cannot then be held liable if unknown assets later come to light.

Our clients have found it a welcome addition to our service and one we continue to recommend to ensure acting as an executor is a role clients can feel confident has been fulfilled with as much ease as possible.