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Heir hunters, any experience?

(14 Posts)
garlicbreathing Fri 03-Jun-16 16:01:56


Looking for some stories that I can pass onto my mum.

My mother has recently been contacted by a couple companies who are looking to find the beneficiary to her fathers estate. She was informed he passed away in January, she has had no contact with him in about 50 years.

They have informed her that it will take up to 18months to settle the estate, and my mum is completely unaware of whether it will be anything substantial. Would she have two companies chasing this if it was something insignificant or do they follow up all estates, no matter how little it's worth?

In the information pack she has been sent, it said how they will complete a family tree and can put people in touch with lost relatives. My mum is quite interested in this, and the possibility that it could tell her whether she has any half siblings she is unaware of.

Does anyone have any experience of this sort of situation?

titchy Fri 03-Jun-16 16:07:54

In brief - in theory estates are supposed to be over £500 before they're published. This may not necessarily be the case though. So it could be bankrupt or worth millions.
Yes they should pass on her contact details quite happily to other beneficiaries. And yes it can take forever...

garlicbreathing Fri 03-Jun-16 16:15:17

Thanks titchy, my mum is quite realistic that it's possibly not going to be lots. Should be interesting anyway!

Kbear Fri 03-Jun-16 16:15:36

I have PM'd you

MayhemandMadness Fri 03-Jun-16 16:15:53

Theres a list publish by govmt, which states who has died without leaving a will. She can put a claim in without using the heir hunters, who will charge a fee.

Hereward1332 Fri 03-Jun-16 16:16:15

My mum always thought she had no wider family, but was contacted out of the blue by the company that does the TV program. It took forever, but she eventually got just over 10k from a relative she never knew she had.

The promised family tree looked a bit shoddy, but is interesting enough.

They typically take about 25% the estate value, but while you can do it yourself it would be really tricky. To be honest, why look a gift horse in the mouth - negotiate on the fees, and wait to see what happens.

MayhemandMadness Fri 03-Jun-16 16:19:21
Try this, sorry cant link on my phone.

garlicbreathing Fri 03-Jun-16 16:23:13

Thanks so much.

Found him on the list!

cdtaylornats Fri 03-Jun-16 22:29:10

You should watch the BBC Heir Hunters programme

NapoleonsNose Fri 03-Jun-16 22:40:15

I had an inheritance come to me via a firm of heir hunters around 15 years ago. It was very small as I was quite far down the line, but the accompanying family tree was quite interesting and sparked my interest in genealogy. The firm involved were very professional - I think it was Finders, often featured on Heir Hunters in the BBC. They couldn't tell me how much I was likely to inherit when they contacted me, only the rough value of the estate. I think in total the estate was worth around £270k - I received just over £1600. It did take a long time to sort out as heirs were dotted all over the world and some couldn't be found initially so an insurance policy had to be put in place in case they subsequently made a claim on the estate.

dodobookends Fri 03-Jun-16 22:52:40

The companies that contact you about this are probably doing it because they can earn commission, and would only bother if either the value of the estate is high enough, or if they will make money out of providing the family history research service. It might be worth trying to find out the name of the solicitor who is dealing with the estate, and contact them direct?

titchy Fri 03-Jun-16 23:03:05

Doesn't work like that dodo. These folks died intestate with no one to sort out the estate so the Government has to sort it, hence publishing the list in the hope that someone will take on the job.

OP could contact the Treasury herself and offer to deal with it, so paying no commission to the heir hunter, but she'd be responsible for distributing correctly and making sure no one was left out.

NapoleonsNose Sat 04-Jun-16 08:11:29

Locating all the heirs and making sure the estate was distributed according to the law is best left the professionals in my opinion. The heir hunters who dealt with the estate I benefitted from had to advertise in newspapers all over the world for heirs to come forward. Eventually, despite these they had to put an insurance policy in place in case they turned up in the future as they could claim off all the other heirs for their share. In my case, it turned out that they did claim and the insurance policy kicked in. Yes, professionals take a cut, but they do all the time consuming (and expensive) legwork.

LunaLoveg00d Sat 04-Jun-16 08:17:15

You can do it by yourself but as others have said it would be tricky - you'd have to draw up the tree in the manner accepted by the Treasury, get all the certificates, prove beyond all doubt that you'd traced every potential beneficiary etc.

It's kind of like conveyancing - you don't legally need a lawyer to buy/sell property but we all do because we know it has to be done correctly. The Heir Hunting firm won't know the value of the estate as it's not published - but they do preliminary enquiries to see if the deceased owned property and ask neighbours about lifestyle to get a rough idea. (I watch the programme a lot!)

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