What is a deceased assets search

Deceased Assets Search

When someone dies in the UK and you are acting as the Executor or personal representative, it is important that you locate and identify all their possessions and financial holdings. This process is called a deceased assets search. It’s essential for several reasons:

  • Settling the Estate: Executors or administrators responsible for the estate need a complete picture of assets to distribute them correctly to beneficiaries and pay off any debts or Inheritance Tax. Missing assets can cause delays, legal complications, and financial losses.
  • Locating Unclaimed Assets: Sometimes, accounts become dormant or unclaimed, especially if the deceased moved or didn’t update contact information. A search can help track down these accounts and claim them rightfully.
  • Fulfilling Legal Duties: Executors have a legal duty to locate and manage all assets properly. Failing to do so can lead to personal liability and legal challenges.

Steps to Conduct a Deceased Assets Search in the UK:

  1. Gather Information: Full name, date of birth, date of death, National Insurance number (NI number), last known addresses, and any other relevant details.
  2. Obtain Death Certificate: Usually required for official inquiries.
  3. Contact Government Agencies: Check for benefits or outstanding debts with:
  4. Search Public Databases: Use the UK Government’s Tell Us Once service to inform relevant government departments of the death, and check the National Unclaimed Assets Database.
  5. Review Personal Paperwork and Financial Statements.
  6. Contact Financial Institutions: Banks, building societies, investment firms, insurance companies, and any other institutions where the deceased might have held accounts or assets.
  7. Consider Professional Help: Professional asset search services can be very helpful in the UK, especially for complex estates.

Types of Deceased Assets Searches in the UK:

  • Internal: This involves reviewing personal records, statements, bills, and tax returns. It’s a good starting point but may not uncover everything.
  • External: This involves contacting various institutions and databases, like banks, building societies, investment firms, pension providers, government departments like the National Savings and Investments (NS&I) and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), and probate records.

Thankfully there are services that our partner Inheritance Data can provide to help with this such as:

  • A National Insurance Number Search if you can’t locate the national insurance number. Without this it is difficult to complete a number of asset searches. Inheritance Data can help you find this, usually within 14 days for as little as £25+ VAT.
  • Certainty Will Search to help you locate the latest Will by searching the 10 million Wills held in the National Will Register.
  • Digital Asset Search to help you locate online accounts the deceased had e.g. online shopping, social media, gambling accounts etc. This can be done for just £25+ VAT.
  • A liability search to identify any debts or liabilities.

Remember, conducting a thorough deceased assets search is crucial for ensuring the proper administration of the estate and fulfilling legal obligations. If you have specific questions, it’s best to consult with a probate practitioner.

You can find a list of all the deceased assets searches to consider on our Asset Search web page.

Understanding my risks as an executor or personal representative

If you are acting as either an executor (if there is a Will) or personal representative, sometimes referred to as an Administrator (if there is no Will), there are a number of risks for you to consider. These risks can apply to you and the beneficiaries.

To help you understand these risks and what can be protected by an Insurance policy, we have written a guide to Executor Insurance which may be useful to you. It explains the risks you face, the types of policies that can be purchased and at what stage in the Probate process.

I hope this guide has helped you understand what is involved in a deceased assets search.

About the Author

Rob Faulkner CEO of Insuristic

Hi, I'm Rob, CEO and Founder of Insuristic. My mission is to make insurance easier to understand and buy online.

I hold an Advanced Diploma in Insurance (ACII) which demonstrates I have a solid technical understanding of Insurance and have committed to continuous professional development. I am also a member of the Chartered Insurance Institute and hold the a Chartered Insurance Broker status.

Over the last 27 years, I have worked for insurers, insurance brokers and insurance technology businesses, specialising in product, sales and marketing.

You can find out more about me on my author page.

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