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27th February 2017

Who are your beneficiaries?

It is extremely important that any named beneficiaries in a Will can be easily identified. An Executor must be able to say with certainty that an individual either is or is not a beneficiary under that Will. There are many things that you can do to assist your Executors and make your beneficiaries as identifiable as possible:

  • Include each the full name of each beneficiary and where possible, their relationship to you as the Testator. Simply gifting “£1,000 to John Smith” with no explanation or obvious link to you as the Testator is not sufficient and will make it extremely difficult for the Executor(s) to identify a beneficiary when dealing with the estate.
  • Any names by which the beneficiary is also known may also be included “my friend John Smith, also known as “Jonny”.
  • Full addresses of each beneficiary should be included. Even where beneficiaries have moved after the Execution of the Will and where the address in the Will has not been updated to reflect this, it will provide useful as one of their last known addresses – any address is better than no address in helping to track down an individual.
  • Think about including a list of addresses to be stored with your Will – this will assist the Executors when required to contact beneficiaries.

There is no legal requirement to include specific details of individual beneficiaries in a Will, however, these will prove useful when contacting beneficiaries during the administration process once the Testator has passed away.

You should always bear in mind that ultimately, where there is uncertainty of who a legacy or gift is intended for in a Will, then that gift shall fail. It will then subsequently either fall to an alternative beneficiary, fall to residue, or in severe cases, mean that the estate is partially intestate.