My role as a professional genealogist includes work as a probate researcher, which involves locating the beneficiaries of people who have died without making a will. A large number of people in the UK do not make a will and some of those have no known relatives.
When there is no will and no known relatives the local authority usually make some initial enquiries to find beneficiaries, if unsuccessful, the details are passed to the Treasury Solicitor. Details are then listed on their website or the legal section of some newspapers. If no claim is made the estate is granted to the Crown.
I trace the entitled relatives of the deceased, starting with the legal advert, using my family history skills, online data bases, libraries, archives and contact with friends and family of the deceased. If successful the estate is passed to the legal next of kin of the deceased.
If I have contacted you, then I believe you and/or other family members are beneficiaries. However I need to confirm this by asking a few questions relating to your family to ensure you are indeed related to the deceased. This can either be done over the phone, via the post, email or by appointment. Please be assured family details will only be collected and used for the purposes of ensuring your entitlement to the estate, in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.
Alternatively it may be that you may be able to help me find beneficiaries because you are a neighbour, friend of the deceased or a beneficiary, and you may know how they can be contacted.
If indeed you are an entitled relative and you wish me to go ahead and make a claim on your behalf, then the next step is to complete a contract and provide photocopies of any certificates or other proofs you have of your family details - originals will be required at a later stage.
The contract that I ask you to sign is an agreement that I will be paid a finder’s commission for the work done to establish your entitlement to a share in the estate. The commission will be 20% of the money owed to you and paid directly from the estate before distribution to the beneficiaries.
In addition, I ask that my direct expenses to prove you are a beneficiary are paid directly from the estate. This includes the purchase of any certificates, wills, or other documents, which are not available from the family.
At no time will you be asked to pay any amount up front and if you do not inherit then you will have nothing to pay. I take all the risks. A claim is made on behalf of one beneficiary (Claimant) who represents all entitled relatives. Original documents are gathered, other evidence obtained and a brief family tree produced. All the evidence is then sent to the Treasury Solicitor. If the claim is successful, it is at this stage that the value of the estate will be made known and released to the Administrator (often the Claimant).
Once all beneficiaries have been traced, the Administrator will pay any fees including my commission and expenses. The remaining estate will then be distributed to you and any other entitled relatives. A copy of the brief family tree used to make the claim will be provide to all beneficiaries (for living individuals, only names will be listed – no other details). The whole process usually takes between 6-12 months although more complex cases can take longer. I will keep you up to date on progress throughout the process.
You may have questions which I hope I would be able to answer. If however you have further concerns, you may wish to contact your solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau for further advice.
Unfortunately due to my current heavy workload I am unable to take on work for new clients until July
2019. If however, you would like to discuss your research plan and reserve a slot from this date then please contact me.
Sue managed to provide us with more information on our family when our search came to a standstill. Fantastic, insightful and suprising results. Thank you for all of your help. L.B.