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  6. Do I have to do a bankruptcy search against all beneficiaries of an estate?

Do I have to do a bankruptcy search against all beneficiaries of an estate?

I am the executor of an estate and ready to distribute to five beneficiaries named in the will, two who live abroad and three who live in Wales. Do I have to do a bankruptcy search against all the beneficiaries, including those living abroad?

Before making a distribution to any beneficiaries in England and Wales, you must carry out a bankruptcy-only search at the Land Charges Department against the name of each beneficiary.

Searches carried out at the Land Charges Department will establish whether, within the previous five years, the beneficiary was subject to a bankruptcy order, unless a court order cancelling the registration has been made.

The search can be conducted online or by using Form K16 for bankruptcy official search

The current fee is either £1 or £2 per search against each name depending on how the search is conducted. This can be charged as an administration cost against the residue of the estate.

In relation to the two beneficiaries currently living abroad, depending upon the size of the bequest, you should consider seeking legal advice from an insolvency lawyer qualified in the jurisdiction where the beneficiary resides before considering distribution.

Overseas bankruptcy searches can also be obtained from commercial third-party providers, such as genealogists.

For more information, see the our Wills and Inheritance Protocol and practice note on bankrupt beneficiaries.


While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.

Have you got a practice question? Call the Practice Advice Service on 020 7320 5675 or email

The Practice Advice Service is staffed Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

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