The Unwilling Beneficiary

It is trite law that an executor’s duty is to bring in the assets of the estate and distribute to the beneficiaries. But what if the beneficiary of an estate cannot be found or has no interest in his inheritance? Reasonable steps must be taken to locate the beneficiary of an estate. But, in rare instances, a beneficiary may not be eager to be located or may disclaim his inheritance outright.

A case in point was recently reported by the BBC. A 1,000 acre estate in Cornwall, England (worth some five million pounds) is being administered by the Official Solicitor of the High Court, generating rental income of eighty-eight thousand pounds per year. John Paget Figg-Hoblyn inherited his father’s estate on his death in 1965 but, according to the BBC, has “not agreed to take up his inheritance.”

Apparently, he was finally located in 1994, living in a trailer park in California, but has once again since gone out of contact. The estate is apparently falling into disrepair.

As is often the case with estate issues reported in the mainstream media, key details are left unanswered. It appears that Mr. Figg-Hoblyn has not disclaimed his inheritance; rather, he just doesn’t want to be found!

However, we are reminded that the whole estate law regime is predicated on beneficiaries actually wanting to receive that to which they are entitled. I don’t know why Mr. Figg-Hoblyn does not want his inheritance but certainly no one can make him accept it. If his objective is to frustrate his father’s estate plan he appears to be succeeding….

Until tomorrow,