Margaret Abbotts: An Unexpected Heir

Tracing an Unexpected Heir

Finding beneficiaries is a large part of the work we do. Locating people around the UK and the wider world, who are the unexpected heir and beneficiary to a relative they likely never knew. With some unclaimed estates totalling figures into the hundreds of thousands, the news you are a beneficiary can be life-changing.

Margret’s Story

Margret was born in London in 1938, her father left her mother when she was just 10 months old. Margret and her mother struggled through the 1940s with bombings hitting London throughout the Second World War resulting in them sleeping on the platform of Highbury and Islington tube station. To make matters worse, Margret suffered numerous illnesses during this period including diphtheria and polio, hospitalising her for many of the air raids during the war.

After finally starting school at the age of 10, Margret worked as a Secretary in a number of places in her late teens before getting married and growing her family with four children. Margret later divorced her husband while their children were in primary school.

Speaking about later life and finding she was an unexpected heir, Margret said:

I needed more cash, so when I saw an advert in the Evening Standard for the BBC World Service I thought why not apply for it? I went for an interview and they hired me. Before long I was working in the newsroom dealing with Europe, Africa and Asia. I’d always wanted to travel, ever since I was a little girl, but it never happened. Hearing stories from around the world reminded me of how much there was that I was desperate to see.

And then one day in 2007 I received a letter from probate genealogists. I knew them as heir hunters, Finders International. I nearly threw the letter away, assuming it was a scam. Then I noticed a name I’d seen before: Mary Major. 

Mary Major was Margret’s half-sister. Her mother had spoken of her, a child of her father’s born before he had met Margret’s mother and 19 years older. Margret had never met Mary, no phone calls, letters or contact of any kind throughout her life. It is unclear to Margret if Mary was even aware of her.

A letter from a member of our probate genealogy team to Margret detailed that Mary had made no will during her life and that as her half-sister, she was entitled to the estate Mary had left behind after her passing. The total figure from all Mary’s assets at the time of her death came to around £300,000, a life-changing sum for Margret.

I told the children and they couldn’t believe it. I invested some and gave a bit to my children. It was all so new to me, having money. I had to learn how to write cheques with so many words and numbers. I paid off my mortgage and started travelling, on cruises and tours. I’ve been to Sri Lanka and along the Panama Canal, to the United States and the Caribbean and Costa Rica.

No Known Next of Kin

Unfortunately, there are a number of cases just like that of Mary Major. With every case of an unclaimed estate, there is at least one unexpected heir, not knowing their life could be about to change. If you know of a person who has recently deceased without a known next of kin to inherit their estate, contact a member of our probate genealogy team to refer their case. We can trace their past to find an entitled relative, ensuring their assets pass to a family member and not the crown.

If you believe you could be an entitled relative, search the Unclaimed Estates List. You may be an unexpected heir just like Margret.

To read the full article please visit: The Guardian