The UK Government recognises the need to address the challenges and opportunities presented by dormancy which is approaching £1bn, and began the process of addressing the issue by passing the Dormant Bank and Building Society Accounts Act in 2008 (the Act).
The Act’s objective was to encourage banks and building societies to identify dormant assets and to make reasonable efforts to reunite those assets with their beneficial owners. If those efforts failed, the Act provided a mechanism whereby dormant accounts could be transferred to an independent body, currently Reclaim Fund Ltd (RFL).
Solicitor firms are at the front line of the UK Governments dormancy challenges, as are often the appointed representative to manage a deceased person’s estate. They will obtain information in respect of any assets and liabilities held. The assets will then be gathered and liabilities paid off.
Many people do plan for the inevitable, writing wills, appointing executors, but very few provide lists of all their assets and liabilities. When managing an estate, a solicitor may have to undertake detective work in order to track down the assets that comprise the estate.
People may have lost or misplaced details of their assets in their lifetime. People may no longer receive mail from insurance policies held and the original policy may have been lost. People move house without updating their address, change jobs and lose track of pension schemes, accounts and investments when they are widowed, married or divorced. Particularly in a digital age where documentation may be held online such as with bank accounts, people may not realise these exist and could be lost.
This then makes the role of solicitor very difficult and costly, especially if the deceased did not keep an up to date record of all their assets and liabilities.
In addition during the course of probate and intestacy work, a solicitor may face difficulties locating either the beneficiaries that are named in a deceased persons will, or locating the living rightful heirs of an estate where no will has been written.
Phil Jennings explains how Bond Lane Research Ltd can support solicitor firms in this area “we have over 20 years’ genealogical research experience and carry oursearcheson behalf of solicitor firms to locate unknown family members or missingheirs to estates and beneficiaries that they have been charged to administer. Any known beneficiaries may have moved on, changed their name or even died themselves. Worse still, in cases where the estate is intestate and heirs are unknown, the trustee is left with an uphill struggle to research family trees and confirm proof of relationship to the deceased in order to complete administration of the estate. At Bond Lane Research we can remove this pain for the solicitor by completing the research and providing full reports including all the document proof required for approval of the estate administration to be granted”.
Bond Lane Research Ltd provides these services at no cost to the solicitor firm, as our fees are reclaimed from the estate beneficiary upon successful settlement.
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