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BBC Kent : Pension clause leads to unexpected windfall for Kent sisters

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When unmarried postal worker, Christopher Cole, from Thanet, died in Margate at only 52 it sparked an extensive search for next of kin. Solicitors discovered a £60,000 pension pot that surprisingly, due to a clause on the pension contact, could only be inherited by his next of kin and not by any beneficiaries in his Will.

The extensive search to find heirs to the pension pot eventually leads Finders International, stars of BBC’s Heir Hunters, to Sandwich Kent.

Chris Cole has spent his entire life working for the Royal Mail in Thanet. He has no children and no siblings, so professional probate genealogists, Finders International, went back a generation in the hope of finding next of kin. Like Chris, his father and grandfather had also worked for Royal Mail.

The research on the maternal side of Chris’s family didn’t bear any fruit and the only next of kin were found on Christopher’s father side of the family. An uncle, Derek Cole had two children, Jacqueline and Susan. These were Christopher’s first cousins and the ultimate heirs to the pension.

Cousin Jacqueline Riordan, from Sandwich said: “Unfortunately I hadn’t seen Chris since we were children. It is very sad to hear that he passed away. II’m really excited about finding out more about the family tree. I have been looking at the family tree for three years now so when Finders International contacted me it was a shock at first, and now with the help of Finders, I can add more information to my own research.”

Danny Curran Finders International “It is great that the pension money has been united with the rightful heirs. Nevertheless the case of Christopher Cole is a good example of why people should not only write a will but also have a forward view of all their financial assets, particularly pensions. Usually if a person has a property this will go through their estate. However, some financial products may fall outside this like in this case – where the clause in the pension meant that it would not form part of the estate but go to the deceased’s next of kin.”

The story broadcasted on Wednesday 25 April as part of the BBC’s new series of Heir Hunters and will then also be available on BBC iPlayer.