The law in BC sets out what happens when, after making reasonable efforts, an executor isn’t able to locate a beneficiary under a will. Some examples of making “reasonable efforts” include:
- contacting the beneficiary’s family members
- checking their last known address and talking to their neighbours
- checking with their last known employer
- asking at places where they’re known to have contacts (for example, clubs, gyms, churches)
When an executor can’t locate a beneficiary within 12 months of the date of the grant of probate, the executor may “sell the property, deduct any costs related to the storage, transportation and sale of the property and hold the net proceeds in trust.” The executor must then pay the money into court after deducting the costs of doing so. If the funds remain in court for five years or more, they will be paid out to a non-for-profit entity.
If a beneficiary has been located and notified of their gift under a will, but neglects or refuses to take delivery of the property within 180 days of the notification, the executor may “sell the property, deduct any costs related to the storage, transportation and sale of the property and send the net proceeds to the beneficiary.” If the beneficiary doesn’t accept the gift, the net proceeds must be held in trust and paid into court, as above.