Trust in your Investigators-locate Beneficiaries
When it comes to skip tracing most people attribute this service to locating debtors or witnesses. However, when it comes to the location of beneficiaries in wills and estates it takes on a different focus and set of skills.
One of the most significant and sometimes onerous duties of an estate trustee is to ascertain and locate all beneficiaries who may have an interest in the estate.
The location of beneficiaries is precise and detailed work and only the most experienced tracers and investigators should be entrusted with this type of assignment. The last thing you need as the executor of an estate is to have the wrong person located or people becoming involved that have no legal claim on the estate.
Anyone responsible for dealing with the estate has a number of legal duties and obligations they must perform to ensure beneficiaries are correctly identified and located.
The level of expertise and investigation required to locate a beneficiary will depend on whether they are known or just missing, the nature of the estate or if there are any further complexities such as whether beneficiaries have relocated internationally or changed their names due to marriage or divorce.
Even in the event that an investigator is given a name, it does not guarantee it is correct as they are often miss-spellings and the pronunciations are often passed down through the family incorrectly.
Genealogy & Technology
Locating beneficiaries in some cases revolves around genealogy and the process of showing different family relationships and the correct names and connections. Often by starting with the present and working backward in someone’s family history will build a solid family history based on historical records to prove relationships and identify next-of-kin.
Having access to the most modern technology to be able to help locate people and identify ownership and rental histories is an absolute must to be able to undertake this type of assignment.
Most executors and trustee that handle wills and estates don’t appreciate the current technologies available to be able to trace through countless pieces of data on beneficiaries
How to start
To locate a missing beneficiary, the estate trustee should start by talking to the family and friends of the deceased to see if they have any further insight into where the missing beneficiary is or was last known to be. If this does not assist the trustee, a next possible step is to advertise for the missing beneficiary in a newspaper local to where the missing individual is believed or known to have resided, and possibly online as well.
Depending on the size of the estate, an estate trustee may also consider hiring investigators with expertise in locating beneficiaries.
What do investigators need?
Often there is very little information on beneficiaries. Sometimes all they are provided with is a name. In a recent case, all the investigator was given was three first names of children and an address from 1975 (link).
Your investigator needs as much information as you can give no matter how small or irrelevant you think it is. The smallest snippet can often piece together a valuable lead.
How to select an Investigator:
- Knowledge – It is important that the investigators have knowledge of estates and genealogy.
- Access to Data – Access to the latest technologies and databases is a must.
- History – A solid track record in locating beneficiaries is imperative. Check reviews and websites as these often give you an insight into the company’s capabilities and expertise.
- Professional witness – Your selected investigator needs to be able to act as a professional witness.
- Licensed – Some states do not require licenses it is important to work with a licensed and accredited investigation company.
- Professional Indemnity – Firms that do not hold this are not even worth engaging.
- Accreditations – look for a firm that is ISO 9001 (Practice Management) and 27001 (Data Security) (link) it shows their commitment to improvement, your confidentiality, and data protection.
At Swa Recoveries & Investigation Group our skip tracers and investigators can not recall an estate matter, where we haven’t been successful in locating the beneficiaries whether they are alive or deceased.
If you would like to put us to the test call us 1300 557 864