News and industry insights

Estatesearch Uncovers Over £1.5 of Unknown Assets

By Estatesearch on January 22nd, 2024

Leading legal technology provider Estatesearch has uncovered well over £1.5 million of unknown assets on behalf of private client practitioners working on probate cases. This represents <1% of the total volume of orders that Estatesearch has processed in the last 12 months.

Ben Furlong, Customer Services Director, Estatesearch confirms:

“Our Financial Profile search helps legal firms locate forgotten accounts, policies and shareholdings, often on behalf of vulnerable individuals in probate cases, to ensure they receive inheritance which is rightfully theirs.  Usually, we don’t know the value of any assets which have been identified, however, this year we spoke to ten firms to find out about their experiences of using our Financial Profile Search.  From this small sample, we found that just over £1.5 million of unknown assets had been identified.  We work with hundreds of legal firms and so the figure across all of our clients would be far in excess of this figure.”

Uncovering unknown assets

Estatesearch offers a Financial Profile Search which provides a comprehensive and detailed report to support an efficient fact-finding process, helping Solicitors quickly build a better understanding of clients’ financial affairs to manage and/or administer an estate effectively.  Using information and data from a variety of sources, the resulting report helps support due diligence, with a clear audit trail to demonstrate the steps undertaken to identify all assets and liabilities.  The search includes AML and identity trace, Liability Search, Financial Asset Search and, in the Financial Profile Premium, Company Directorships and an Unclaimed Asset Search which includes up to 40 additional pension and insurance providers to help locate forgotten accounts, policies and shareholdings.  All subjects are automatically enrolled with the Vulnerability Registration Service to prevent fraud and financial abuse against the estate too.

Cinzia Duncan, Senior Associate, Harper Macleod one ofScotland’s leading full-service law firms explains:

“Estatesearch’s Financial Profile search proved invaluable [in one case], quickly identifying six bank accounts containing hundreds of thousands of pounds plus an annuity.  Uncovering these unknown assets has enabled us to move forwards with the Executry process and will ensure the beneficiaries will now receive what is rightfully theirs.” 

Tom Bottomley, Solicitor at Ewart Price an expert legal team based in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire confirms:

 “One high-value estate included various investments and shareholdings and our client was confident they already had all of the information regarding the deceased’s assets. Nevertheless, we advised our client to run Estatesearch’s Financial Profile as standard due diligence and for her own piece of mind. To our client’s surprise, a significant investment was uncovered by the search of around £38K, which had ramifications for the inheritance tax position. Our client is now reassured that no other assets will come out of the woodwork and no stone has been left unturned.”

Executors face real challenges

Correct identification of assets and liabilities is essential to ensure appropriate distribution of an estate and to ensure Executors meet their obligations in this regard. Failure to identify an asset at the appropriate time can lead to contention and negligence claims between Executors and Beneficiaries, HMRC fines for understated IHT and additional fees charged for re-administering the Estate, costs which must be borne by the Estate. However, with accounts increasingly being managed online, families and their executors face real challenges when it comes to identifying and locating the assets of the deceased. 

Ben Furlong continues: 

“Over time, it’s easy to lose track of pension pots, premium bonds or life insurance policies.  In our own research survey of 2,000 UK residents carried earlier this year, we found that 38% of people don’t know the whereabouts of all their loved ones’ accounts.  

“As a result, it is estimated that there is over £200 Billion in unclaimed assets in the UK.  With the report for our Financial Profile Search being returned within 30 working days, Estatesearch now offers a cost effective, rapid search solution to provide peace of mind for beneficiaries and ensure legal firms have completed due diligence on behalf of clients providing a clear audit trail to demonstrate the steps undertaken to identify all assets and liabilities in an estate.”

Estatesearch Services

As well as the Financial Profile Search, Estatesearch also offer a range of additional services including, Trustee Notices, Overseas & UK Bankruptcy Searches, Unoccupied Property Insurance, Early Distribution Insurance and Share Valuations.  With no registration or subscription fees, our customers simply pay for the disbursements they need, when they need them.

Ben Furlong concludes:

“While we are delighted to have helped repatriate such a high value of missing assets with their rightful owners, over the next year we plan to launch further services to support private client practitioners involved in estate administration as we continue to leverage data and technology to streamline processes.  We are led by our clients’ feedback to develop new services that support them in meeting their due diligence obligations and driven to helping them to provide better outcomes for their own clients, particularly those that are vulnerable.”

For further information please visit: Services – Estatesearch

This article has been covered in Today’s Will’s and Probate – 29th December 2023

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