Kent Online : Heir Hunters firm Finders International tracks down Jacqueline Riordan after Christopher Cole’s death

An extensive search to find heirs to an unmarried man’s pension pot has resulted in a £30,000 windfall for a Sandwich woman.

Jacqueline Riordan, who featured in a new television series entitled Heir Hunters, was contacted by professional probate genealogists Finders International.

They were looking for the next of kin to Deal postal worker Christopher Cole, from Thanet, who died aged 52.

The unsuspecting heir – Jacqueline Riordan from Sandwich

The Royal Mail manager who worked at the delivery office in Stanhope Road had left a will but solicitors also 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.

Mr Cole had followed in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps by working for the Royal Mail. He had spent his whol working life with the service and is remembered by his colleagues as somebody who “lived to work”.

He had no children and no siblings, so Finders International went back a generation in the hope of finding next of kin.

The research on the maternal side of Mr Cole’s family didn’t bear any fruit and the only next of kin were found on his father’s 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.

Ms Riordan who received a knock on the door before agreeing to feature on the television programme, said: “Unfortunately I hadn’t seen Chris since we were children.

“I’m really sad to have something from Christopher in that it means he’s passed but obviously I’m quite surprised and excited that he left something for me and my sister.”

But it’s not just about the money for Ms Riordan who is also very interested in her family tree.

She said: “I’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 from Finders International “It is great that the pension money has been united with the rightful heirs.”

It would have otherwise become government money.

He added: “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 was broadcast as part of the BBC’s new series of Heir Hunters and is available on BBC iPlayer.

This article has been first posted in the Kent Online.