The Taylor&Emmet Blog

Lost assets: The role of executors

It is estimated lost assets worth £15 billion are waiting to be claimed in the UK, a figure that is likely to increase as we embrace digitisation. This month, Ben Brown explains how this complicates the role of executors…

The recent sudden death of Gerald Cotton, founder of Canadian cryptocurrency, Quadriga CX, has been a complete disaster for its customers. It is thought he was the only person with access to the funds and there are doubts investors will ever see their money again.

Owning any kind of cryptocurrency will make life difficult for your loved ones, if you die, as without careful planning, it is hard to identify the asset. However, as online accounts become the norm, even traditional investments can prove just as tricky to find.

I’ve been appointed executor of my father’s estate. How do I know when I’ve identified all his assets?

It is important to remember that representatives of any estate have a legal duty, both to the beneficiaries and HMRC, to account for all of a deceased’s assets.

Reasonable efforts must be made to search for and recover any missing pieces of the jigsaw, to ensure you do not leave yourself open to a claim.

With many accounts and investments held online these days, finding a paper trail for an estate can be very difficult. In many cases, without access to your father’s email, hard drive or cloud storage, it could be almost impossible to say with confidence you have located all assets.

Pension funds can be equally problematic. It is not uncommon for individuals to have several pensions throughout their life and this can make tracing them after death complicated, especially if they were not yet paying out.

Is it worth instructing professional help to find lost assets?

I personally deal with a large number of estates where little is known about the deceased and his or her financial affairs, so I have to carry out a number of checks and searches for possible assets or liabilities.

There are various third-party search providers, such as Landmark, the Unclaimed Asset Register, Inheritance Data and the PSaS, who can help. Free searches can also be made via and the pension tracing service.

Our inheritance tracing team at Taylor&Emmet has developed other tried and tested methods of locating lost funds and in the last few years, we have found several million pounds for executors. We can also track down foreign assets in many jurisdictions.

If you are handling an estate that requires further investigation, don’t hesitate to give me a call on (0114) 218 4000 or email:

To find out more about inheritance tracing or making a will, why not book a free 30-minute consultation with one of our probate specialists? Telephone (0114) 218 4000, email: or complete this form.

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