Robert Lindley and Wesley O’Brien provide a step-by-step guide to dealing with missing or uncooperative beneficiaries.
It will be important for the trustee to be capable of demonstrating that it has made sufficient reasonable efforts to find and/or contact the relevant person.
Trusts exist for the benefit of their beneficiaries and it is to beneficiaries whom trustees owe their duties. Whether the beneficiaries have a fixed interest or not, trustees owe their duties to the beneficiaries as a whole and trustees are therefore placed in a challenging predicament when beneficiaries cannot be located. While it sounds highly unusual, it is not altogether uncommon for executors of deceased estates and even for professional trustees to find themselves administering a trust or estate, but unable to distribute to one or more of the primary beneficiaries, because such person cannot be located or is unwilling to communicate with the trustee, meaning that the trustee cannot obtain a valid receipt and discharge.
This article was first published in Issue #228 of Trust and Estates Law and Tax Journal.