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What happens when a beneficiary is missing?

On Behalf of | Mar 15, 2022 | Probate

After a loved one passes away, it can be challenging to handle their estate plan as it goes through probate. In addition to your grief, you likely cannot put the rest of your life on hold while you coordinate the distribution of assets.

One of the tasks that can make probate last longer is locating the beneficiaries named in the will. When a beneficiary is missing, it can complicate your duties as an executor.

Here’s what you should know about how to deal with a missing beneficiary.

Ways to find them

There are times when family members become distant from each other. However, distance does not mean that someone is not included in an estate plan. While it is frustrating to locate someone who has become distant, it is still an essential part of the probate process.

As the executor, you will need to demonstrate you have made attempts to find the missing beneficiary, such as:

  • Placing an ad in local newspapers
  • Sending notification to their last known address
  • Talking to a professional, like an heir hunter, to find their whereabouts

In essence, you are demonstrating that you have made a good faith attempt to find the beneficiary in the will.

What if they remain missing?

Ultimately, there are times when someone removes themselves enough that they cannot be found. Eventually, the probate court will allow you to move on with the administration of the estate.

When a beneficiary is missing, their inheritance could go to Florida’s unclaimed property division. However, depending on the circumstances, the probate judge may have an alternative solution.

Probate can be a challenging process, especially if you have one or more family members who are difficult to track down. It is essential to have professional support during the administration of an estate.


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