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Solicitors in England have recently reached out to the public to trace a mystery man who is the heir to a multi-million pound inheritance.  

Mrs Stella Knott (nee Phillips) passed away on 5 February 2016. Mrs Knott left a will giving her £3.5m estate to her son, Roy Phillips, who was given up for adoption at birth in February 1964.

Mrs Knott created the will leaving her estate to her son back in 1991. The Will stipulates a deadline of 3 years to find Roy before his inheritance is passed to another family member, however, it contains no information of Roy’s whereabouts or how to find him.

Mrs Knott’s husband has been frantically working with his Solicitors in order to try and trace down this mystery man. With no information of where Roy lives or details of his adoption including possible change of name, and with less than a year to the deadline, time is quickly running out for him to claim his inheritance.  

Mr Knott’s Solicitors have exhausted all official measures to trace his whereabouts, and have now turned to the public in a desperate bid to find this man. They have appealed to newspapers and ask anyone who has any information on Roy’s whereabouts, or anyone who believes they could be Roy Phillips to come forward.

Although this interesting case is one from England, it highlights the importance of having an up to date will and providing your Executors and loved ones with as much information as possible about your beneficiaries.

In Scotland, Executors have a responsibility to distribute a deceased’s estate in terms of the instructions in their Will. They have a duty to track down all beneficiaries even if this requires the use of official measures such as instructing tracing agents. In Scotland, whether there is a will or not, certain beneficiaries have 20 years from the date of death to claim legal rights from the estate. Therefore, if Executors do not use all measures available to fulfil their duties they may be held personally liable for any claims made at a later date against the deceased’s estate.

For reasons such as this, we recommend that clients regularly review their will, and keep their Executors informed of any changes.

If you wish to review your will, or have yet to prepare a will, you can get in touch with one of our specialist solicitors. Our solicitors also have experience of acting as Executors and providing support to Executors to ensure they comply with their duties.

If you wish for information on your role as an Executor, or if you wish to prepare a Will, you can get in touch with us 0800 089 1331.

Blog by Laura Kerr, Private Client Team

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