‘I inherited £250,000 from someone I’d never met’

Margaret Abbotts, 76, inherited £250,000 out of the blue from a relative she never knew. She was contacted about the inheritance by Finders international probate genealogists after her half-sister, a childless widow whom she had never met, died intestate in 2007.

“When the letter arrived from Finders, merely asking if I was Mary’s sister, I thought it was from an ancestry-tracing company and almost put it in the bin. Then I read it again and decided to call them up.”

She was astounded to discover she was the sole heir to her half-sister’s estate. “I had never spoken to her in all my life. I think it’s incredible she never made a will.”

Abbotts, who had contracted polio at the age of four, used some of her inheritance to buy herself a new wheelchair and gave each of her four children £10,000. Then she paid off her £37,000 mortgage and invested £60,000 in an annuity to enable her to pay for a part-time private carer. “It helps me to lead a fuller life.”

She donated £1,000 to the Salvation Army and spent a further £20,000 on trips abroad, taking her children on cruises around the Caribbean and up the Amazon. “I always wanted to travel, but without my inheritance I would never have been able to afford it.”

The rest of the money she invested in bonds and Isas, which have grown to £105,000. “I feel enormously grateful to my sister. I feel I’m finally getting the help that my mother and I needed when I was young. But I would still rather have known my sister than had the money.”

Extract from The Guardian.