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Someone called claiming a distant relative died without a will - anyone dealt with one of these people? (he wants a 20% cut)

(22 Posts)
TheBlonde Tue 14-Aug-07 09:56:28

Someone called claiming a distant relative died without a will

He wants 20%
Is it likely to be some kind of scam??
Some other relatives have signed some papers already and given drivers licence or passport photocopies

Pixiefish Tue 14-Aug-07 09:57:39

There was a telly programme on not long about these will finders. I'd agree to a meeting and see what they say

Spagblog Tue 14-Aug-07 09:58:07

Scam!
Had one from some businessman in Nigeria yonks ago

Pixiefish Tue 14-Aug-07 09:59:29

Not necessarily a scam if they've phoned. Don't discount it out of hand without seeing what they have to say.

Do agree thought hat if it's connected to Nigeria then it is probably a scam.

Get them to give you some info that you can check out

LIZS Tue 14-Aug-07 10:00:25

Do you have the details of the person who died. You can apply for a copy of the will yourselves iirc. 20% seems a lot and I daresay you won't know how much you might benefit until you sign up It is normal for executors to take expenses but don't think this is usually on a % basis.

winemakesmummyclever Tue 14-Aug-07 10:17:21

I got a letter with similar details a few years ago. I just threw it in the bin. I felt that it was a scam, as I'd never heard of any of my/ex-h's family going to live in Africa.

Do you have any family over there? Surely they can provide details of the deceased and their link to you. If they don't send you any info, then it's definitely a scam. Worrying for those family members who have sent info (even if it is only photocopied).

I would never give out any personal information to someone who has called me out of the blue. My dad has nearly been conned a few times by people saying he's won a holiday etc., but can they have his credit card details to ensure something or other is correct/reserved for him. Bloody idiot goes and gives the number out. Have been forced to contact his bank a few times now because of such swindlers.

TheBlonde Tue 14-Aug-07 10:26:11

Another relative has met the guy
It seemed like he does this will finding stuff for a living

Rhubarb Tue 14-Aug-07 10:27:23

Conman, report him and don't give him any money. It's a sell.

indignatio Tue 14-Aug-07 10:27:44

Before I retired from paid work (5 years ago)I dealt with estates and wills and such. If I needed to trace family, I would employ someone to do it, I would however pay them out of the estate. I am uncomfortable with your scenario, but don't know if this is the way the world has moved on in my absence.

BreeVanDerCampLGJ Tue 14-Aug-07 10:28:21

SCAM

hoxtonchick Tue 14-Aug-07 10:32:13

not necessarily a scam, there was an article in the guardian about this a few weeks ago. find out which firm he represents & look them up.

hoxtonchick Tue 14-Aug-07 10:37:33

here

Mercy Tue 14-Aug-07 10:37:41

What's the name of the company - could you google the name?

This company Fraser and Fraser is one of the largest probate researchers afaik.

Mercy Tue 14-Aug-07 10:38:50

ha, x posted with hoxtonchick!

baffledbb Tue 14-Aug-07 10:41:03

It may or may not be a scam. the TV programme showed how firms competed to trace relatives. They were freelance (as far as I could tell) as in not employed by solicitors to do this and took a cut.
(Coming so soon after the TV programme showing this would make me sceptical though,so you are right to be very cautious)

Ellbell Tue 14-Aug-07 10:41:56

I was contacted a few years ago by someone trying to trace relatives of someone with (v. unusual) surname. I presume he'd started with me because I am google-able. I just told him I'd never heard of anyone with the name of the person who died, and that was that.

Not sure if your chappie is scamming you or not TheBlonde (it doesn't 'feel' right, but that could be just because I get so much spam from people wanting me to give them my bank details that I've become cynical), but this kind of thing (tracing of long-lost relatives) does go on.

Hope you sort it out.

Ellbell Tue 14-Aug-07 10:42:38

Sorry, that should have said:

... with my unusual surname

TheBlonde Tue 14-Aug-07 17:21:39

Thanks for the replies
We will be making some more enquiries

portonovo Tue 14-Aug-07 19:09:06

Not necessarily a scam, this is a legitimate source of work for many firms. And to be fair, some people get money that they would never have known about. However, if you can prove yourself that you are entitled to a share of an estate, you can do so without anyone else taking a cut.

Have a look at this Treasury site bonavacantia It tells you how to submit a claim. You need to show evidence of your relationship with the deceased.

You said some relatives have already signed up with this firm, so presumably you know the name of the relative. That's the hard bit - if someone rings out of the blue and obviously doesn't tell you the name of the distant relative, you need to find out. On the bonavacantia site you can search for names of people dying without a will. You can search by first letter of the surname or search by family name so you could try common names in your extended family. That probably wouldn't be much help if the relative had another name by marriage that you didn't know. You can also see the full list of names, in case you recognise one. The list shows the name, place of death and the amount of their estate. Then you just click on the name to submit your claim.

Actually, I've just had a look on the site, and there are only 63 names currently listed, so it's worth having a look at.

Under the FAQ, there is a bit saying I have cousins, do I have to share the money. And the answer is that once an entitled person is identified, the estate still has to be shared out under intestacy rules, although the Treasury Solicitor would no longer be involved at that stage. So that seems to imply that you would be entitled to a share now that your other relatives have been identified, even if you don't sign up with this heir-finding firm. I would still make a claim myself though!

Good luck!

scienceteacher Tue 14-Aug-07 19:11:51

The BBC had a really interesting daytime show for a while called Heirhunters, presented by Nadia Sawalha, that detailed these cases. I don't think it is necessarily a scam, but if you know who your relative is, I think you can probably make the claim yourself.

TheBlonde Tue 21-Aug-07 23:21:39

Thanks portonovo - I found the person on the site you mention

portonovo Wed 22-Aug-07 09:42:57

Good news - hopefully you'll get whatever is due to you without someone else taking a 20% cut!

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