Danny Curran, founder and managing director of Finders International, has been featured in the This is Money discussing the hard work and dedication needed to successfully start an heir hunting firm.

Finders International was founded in 1998 and 22 years later, the company has successfully expanded to have over 100 staff across its offices in London, Edinburgh, Dublin and Australia with a turnover of £7 million.

Furthermore, Danny created the International Association of Professional Probate Researchers, Genealogists and Heir Hunters (IAPPR) to help regulate the industry which does not have an official governing body.  The IAPPR now represents 12 international companies across the globe.

Watch out for scams

Danny told the This is Money publication that while heir hunting has been a long established and legitimate business, criminals will sometimes try and pose as probate researchers to scam the public or amateur heir hunters will contact beneficiaries without a full understanding of the legal requirements.

Finders International recommend doing your research on the company that has contacted you before signing anything. For instance, there should not be any hidden charges and heir hunters will not ask for any money upfront.

Fees are deducted from the estate once all research and administrative work has been completed before assets are distributed to beneficiaries.  Always check a firm for accreditations and credentials looking out for regulatory bodies such as the IAPPR and Trading Standards certification.

Although it is not all about the money at Finders. In the last 12 months, the team completed 531 pro bono cases. Danny said in the article: ‘We have relationships with local authorities and we often help them solve cases where people die in their care without a Will or next of kin.

If they don’t find any heirs, it’s the local authorities that are responsible for funeral costs but sometimes Finders International will take on the costs.’

What happens if you’re contacted by an heir hunter?

You may be approached by a letter or a telephone call to say you are due an inheritance.  They may or may not disclose who the deceased is at that time but will ask questions to confirm you are the correct person, such as confirming who your parents or grandparents are and asking for your birth date.

You may not even know the deceased at all, as shown by the Constance Doheny case. Constance was a seamstress and Crufts champion who died without a Will and left a £250K estate.

The Finders team quickly located Constance’s paternal first cousin once removed, Jacqueline Pearson, who said: ‘When Finders International asked about Constance, I had no idea, I have never heard the name!’

Jacqueline had a brother, David, who had passed away and so the Finders team tracked down David’s daughter, Danielle.  Danielle had had no contact with her father’s side of the family and she had not seen her aunt, Jacqueline, for 30 years. The research by Finders meant that not only did Jacqueline and Danielle receive a share of the £250K estate but they were able to be reunited.

Danny said, ‘Reuniting long lost family members is a heart-warming part of the job.’

You can read the full article here.

If you would like to learn more about Finders International, then you can visit their website.