We managed to find out who the person is that left the money. We think it's DH's mother!! She suffered from mental illness and was estranged from her sons. We knew she had died (found her death certificate) and contacted the nursing home that cared for her, but they thought she didn't have any family. She was a very ill woman and we assumed she must have died leaving nothing. Apparently the Treasury will only tell you that the value of the estate is more than £500. They won't say how much until the claim is processed (to stop heir-hunters). Anyway, the probate research guy is going to do all the work in exchange for his 12%. I think we'll be shocked if MIL died with anything more than a few hundred quid, so he'll probably barely cover his expenses.
I'd be really sceptical about this. Especially as it came by e-mail and not by post. I think a genuine company would send a letter. But that's just my opinion. But I'd be very wary that this was genuine.
If they are not asking for money upfront then it sounds ok. The heir hunters don't usually bother with small estates so good luck. Just NEVER pay them any money. And don't give out bank details etc until you are 100% sure!!
LegoUniverse it wouldn' necessarily be someone who died intestate - could just be that they can't trace the named beneficiaries, or they have died, so your dh is next in line so to speak. Might be worth checking further?
My Gran got contacted by a similar business - some obscure relative had passed away etc, but it was legit - she had to sign an agreement with the company and they got a share of the legacy. It wasn't a fortune, but I think she came away with a few hundred quid and information about distant family that she hadn't known all about. She didn't pay anything upfront.
Well good luck with it, whatever you decide. I would definitely do it myself, but that's because a) I can't resist a challenge; b) I do freelance historical research and c) live a bus ride from the Probate Office.
Thanks for this information. It is possible the company are proper 'heir hunters'. In subsequent emails, the guy has explained his work and says he takes 12.% of whatever the legacy is worth. I checked the list at the Treasury of all the people who died intestate, but we couldn't find anyone from DH's family on the list, and the heir hunter won't say who it is, obviously, as he would lose his percentage of the claim. AS I say, DH's family were a bit odd, and as a result of this correspondence we have discovered a first cousin for DH that he never knew existed. DH might just allow the heir hunter to go ahead just to see what family information he comes up with. They were a pretty poor family, so I can't see there being a fortune in it, unless someone won the lottery. But we definitely won't part with any cash upfront and will bear your warning in mind. Thanks again.
www.justice.gov.uk/courts/probate/copies-of-grants-wills I have ordered copies of several wills in person at First Avenue House - perfectly straightforward. And also note this on the same website: "Probate Scams Please be aware that there are currently several Probate scams in operation via the Internet. Many of these will inform the recipient that they are the beneficiary of a substantial legacy but will ask for fees and/or taxes in advance of sending more information or the release of funds. These will always be fraudulent and on no account should you make any payment or transfer any funds. You can obtain further information and advice concerning such scams on www.met.police.uk/fraudalert You will also find information about reporting such activity to the police, as the police may be able to close down the e-mail accounts concerned."
DH received an email giving some information about a dead uncle (long dead -- he died in 1942 in active service) but saying that DH was a beneficiary in his uncle's will (presumably his mother was the actual legatee, but she died about 8 years ago). The emailer gave out quite a lot of detailed family information, so he had clearly done his research (on Ancestry, perhaps). He gave his company name as MCW Probate Research. He hasn't asked for a bank account number (yet)! Does anyone know if this is legitimate? DH's family were rather dysfunctional, with lots of estrangement going on, so it seems potentially possible that someone died leaving some sort of legacy. Has anyone else heard of this company? (A quick scoot round google didn't bring up anything too hopeful).