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Letter about unclaimed estate - intriguing!

(141 Posts)
Cantdecidewhich Sat 05-Dec-20 11:45:20

Dp received a letter from France yesterday from a man who says he is a private geanealogist, he said he is not looking for any financial gains it is a pastime.
Anyway the letter goes into great detail about his relatives and places they lived etc. and says that he had a great aunt who died in 1993 with no will and he is entitled to claim her estate in his Mother's name (deceased) and he asks if DP to pursue it with his assistance or appoint a solicitor or do it himself.
Has this happened to anyone else on here?

OP’s posts: |
SendHelp30 Sat 05-Dec-20 11:46:12

Sounds like a scam. How would he have your husbands details?

Finfintytint Sat 05-Dec-20 11:55:39

I’d be suspicious. If your DH engages with him there will likely be “fees”.
If you google genealogy scams, there are several examples like this.

AaronPurr Sat 05-Dec-20 11:55:47

from a man who says he is a private geanealogist

Is this a typo you've made or did he call himself a geanealogist? Surely someone who actually did this would know it's a genealogist.

As for the estate if he genuinely doesn't want anything from your DH then i'm sure he will be happy to send the information he has free of charge, in order for your husband to put forward his claim.

Cantdecidewhich Sat 05-Dec-20 12:17:22

In the letter he says he wants nothing, he said Dp may have to pay for copy of birth, death certs but that is not to him. He says he tracked him down form the UK electoral register.

@AaronPurr that was my typo smile

OP’s posts: |
Lookatthat Sat 05-Dec-20 12:22:04

I’d be cautious, but these heir hunters can be real...we had similar from a distant relative of my nan, although it was a very very small amount!

TheGreatWave Sat 05-Dec-20 12:22:50

Hmm. Many, many years ago my Dad got a similar letter, first thing he did was check with his sister.

Seems this scam is an old as the hills and very much pre- dates the internet.

Cantdecidewhich Sat 05-Dec-20 12:25:00

Forgot to say that it gives the reference number for the unclaimed estate on the Bonavacantia list and it is on there.

OP’s posts: |
WitchesSpelleas Sat 05-Dec-20 12:27:19

It sounds like a scam to me.

Your DH could surely research this himself and make his own claim, if genuine.

SteeperThanHell Sat 05-Dec-20 12:30:15

We had this but in the UK. By the time all relatives had been traced we got about 16K from an estate of 250K.

BrieAndChilli Sat 05-Dec-20 12:31:14

If you have the wastage number then there is nothing to stop your DH looking into this himself. He has no need to even reply to this person. Just track your DH family tree himself and make a claim on the estate

Jimbellselmbath Sat 05-Dec-20 12:32:02

My auntie got one of these about 2 years ago. She got around £1,200 from an uncle she never knew existed along with 30odd other family members. I felt really sad for the guy, saving all that money for what? I hope he was warm and fed well in his life.

AcornAutumn Sat 05-Dec-20 12:32:45

It sounds like a scam

Even if it’s not about money

Some people get kicks out of doing odd things.

What detail does he know?

AcornAutumn Sat 05-Dec-20 12:33:15


If you have the wastage number then there is nothing to stop your DH looking into this himself. He has no need to even reply to this person. Just track your DH family tree himself and make a claim on the estate


StopGo Sat 05-Dec-20 12:34:01

If the estate is on the Bona Vacantia list your DH can make his own enquiries.

ginginchinchin Sat 05-Dec-20 12:35:08

It won't be a scam if he's very kindly given you the details. You can do it yourself via the bona vacant is website. The researcher won't know the value of the estate, and you have to provide certificates to prove the link to the deceased. He's done you a favour as the actual firms who do this only give you that level of info if you sign up to them and agree to give them a percentage for acting on your behalf.

shinynewapple2020 Sat 05-Dec-20 12:35:23

I think my first reaction would be that it was a scam. If it's real I can only assume that the person writing is hoping that your DH will pay him to do the legal work for him .

This is not quite the same thing, but my dad's cousin died intestate and he got a letter from a solicitor who was tracing all family members who might be entitled to money from her estate . Although in this instance he knew the cousin who had died , it was fairly recent and we knew other family members had received similar . My dad had to sign something to agree that the solicitor would take their fees as a percentage of the money he received , as did other family members . Before the pay out they were all sent a family tree of who was entitled to what percent . Dad inherited quite a lot but the percentage taken by the solicitor was around 25%.

I suppose if it's inheritance you weren't expecting on a no-win-no-fee basis that's one thing , but certainly don't pay out anything up front .

ginginchinchin Sat 05-Dec-20 12:35:47

Bona vacantia smile

feellikeanalien Sat 05-Dec-20 12:37:04

DP got a letter from a company about 10 years ago saying that he was entitled to receive a sum of money from the estate of a distant relative which should have gone to his father. DPs father left when he was very young so he never had an relationship with him. He had never heard of this relative.

I was suspicious and did some background checking but it did turn out to be genuine. (It actually took me down a really interesting rabbit hole checking out DPs family tree.) Unfortunately it was only £100 or so!

In this case if the estate shows up on the unclaimed estates list I would contact the appropriate government department directly to confirm if this is the case or not.

It may not be a huge sum but you never know. The guy in France may well be genuine but as always with anything like this it pays to be very cautious.

shinynewapple2020 Sat 05-Dec-20 12:38:43


Bona vacantia smile

Is it just me that thinks this should mean 'happy holiday'?

2bazookas Sat 05-Dec-20 12:40:30

Its a scam heading in the direction of identity theft.. Probably by people who've given up pretending to be a Nigerian govt official, your friend stranded abroad. or a tragic widowed mother with cancer.

delete and ignore. do not confirm your email address, name, family members etc.

RaspberryCoulis Sat 05-Dec-20 12:43:52

Love how people with zero knowledge immediately leap to saying it's a scam.

I'm a genealogist - and working towards a professional qualification which will accredit me as such. Heir hunting is very much a "thing" - there's a whole BBC tv series about it.

I don't know much about French records and law but do know that their inheritance laws are very different to those in any part of the UK. People can't write children out of wills in France, for example.

It might be a scam - although unlikely. Bit elaborate and not asking for bank account numbers immediately. It will be VERY easy to establish whether this person is genuine by doing some googling and research. Harder if you don't speak French but by no means impossible.

Yes you can also put forward a claim if you think you're entitled but using the services of a professional ensures you are providing the documents which meet the genealogical proof standard not just what you think is sufficient evidence to back your claim. This isn't as straightforward as just whacking a couple of birth and death certificates in the post. And that's before you start dealing with foreign jurisdiction, laws and terminology you're not familiar with, all in French.

GroundAlmonds Sat 05-Dec-20 12:45:44


Forgot to say that it gives the reference number for the unclaimed estate on the Bonavacantia list and it is on there.

Well if it’s on there, it’s on there.

You can pursue it privately without the help of the genealogist if you wish.

TressiliansStone Sat 05-Dec-20 12:45:59

I'm a hobby genealogist and I would absolutely do a thing like this.

That doesn't mean it's not a scam of some kind. But if he's given you all the details so that you can deal directly with the Bona Vacantia site then you don't need to engage with him. And what would the scam be, if you do it independently?

In your DP's position, I would thank the person for their information and say that, as obviously this has come out of the blue he would like to make his own enquiries, but thank you very much for the leads.

Then pursue independently with Bona Vacantia. If anything comes of it, get in touch to say thank you.

If the chap is genuine, he will be perfectly OK with you going it alone and also will feel very rewarded by feedback that he was right and has done a good thing for you!

AcornAutumn Sat 05-Dec-20 12:47:15

OP the first thing I’d want to know is how and why your DP was targeted.

Raspberry do you know how this stuff happens then?

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