In this series of articles, we are looking at the main heads of cover provided within Comprehensive Executor & Inheritance Protection Insurance. On this occasion we are looking at the risk of a valid will being discovered after an estate has been distributed.
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Despite undertaking all reasonable efforts and searches to ascertain if the deceased left a will, there remains the possibility that once an estate has been distributed a valid will is subsequently discovered.
The rise of DIY will writing, online will storage companies and the lack of a central national database means that when even the most comprehensive professional searches fail to identify a will, there cannot be 100% certainty that a will does not exist. It is also possible that if a will is discovered and the estate is administered on that basis, a later version of the will can still emerge which changes entitlement to the deceased’s estate.
The admission by Lloyds Bank in 2019 that it had discovered the wills of some 9,000 deceased customers in their ‘safe custody’ service which had not been passed on to the deceased’s families shows that these situations can arise. Although the frequency of such events is low the impact for those affected could be severe.
In such situations where a will is discovered after the estate has been distributed, beneficiaries could find themselves being asked to repay any money they have received. In addition, personal representatives could open themselves up to claims of negligence as could professional practitioners providing estate administration services.
Arranging Comprehensive Executor & Inheritance Protection Insurance (which includes missing will insurance) can provide personal representatives and beneficiaries with peace of mind that should a valid will appear after the estate has been distributed, beneficiaries will not have to repay their inheritance and the legal defence costs of a challenge would be met by the insurer. In certain circumstances the one-off premium for the cover can be paid from the estate as a reasonable expense of administration.
The protection for personal representatives and beneficiaries is quite clear. The added benefit to professional probate practitioners here is that the policy offers a remedy which could be an alternative to claiming under their businesses professional indemnity insurance should such a claim arise.
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Hayes Parsons Insurance Brokers can help probate solicitors place executor and inheritance insurance. If you have any additional questions or would like a quotation, get in touch with our probate insurance expert, Paul Guest: