Consumer Choice must be maintained as ‘Kin’ a respected player in the genealogy market, announce business closure

Finders, the international probate genealogy firm, today warned of the need to preserve consumer choice when employing the services of professional probate genealogists. This follows the closure of Kin, a respected player in the market, due to difficult business conditions.

Finders specialises in helping clients – lawyers, trustees, executors or administrators and personal representatives – through the often formidable task of identifying and tracing heirs and locating missing or unknown beneficiaries. Like Finders, Kin has emphasised the importance ensuring consumers can receive a bespoke service which best suits their needs when utilising the services of heir hunters.

Finders is particularly concerned about the use of open-ended time-based charging by some firms, where consumers are charged on an hourly basis for heir hunting services – these fees are payable regardless of the outcome of the search. This means that there is a risk that the entire value of an estate could be swallowed up in fees.

Commenting, Daniel Curran, Finders’ Managing Director said:

“The closure of Kin highlights how quickly choice can be undermined in this market.

“It also redoubles the need to ensure that consumers are aware of the risks associated with time based fees. Choice of fee option is vital to a healthy and competitive market.

“Contingency fee arrangements are currently the most popular fee option, as the genealogist’s fees are not charged to the estate, whether or not a missing beneficiary is located. They are also by their nature proportionate.

“Other fee options such as time based charging can carry significant financial risk for the consumer. Furthermore, if contingency fee agreements were not available, there would be cases where a difficult search for a missing heir is simply not undertaken, and others where the estate of known heirs is used up in fees paid for searching for missing heirs. This would restrict consumer choice and ultimately the consumer would suffer.

“We believe that probate genealogist should allow consumers to be in the driving seat when it comes to fee options. A good firm of probate genealogists will be keen to find the best fit for the consumer and will be able to discuss a variety of fee options and costing methods.

“The overwhelming majority of the probate genealogy market offers contingency fees as one of a range of payment options, reflecting consumer demand for a choice of affordable options.”

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Please direct any queries to Jon McLeod on 020 7067 0325 or jmcleod@webershandwick.com

Daniel Curran
Written by Daniel Curran
Daniel is a leading figure in the UK Heir Hunting industry. He is from Isleworth in West London and has lived in London for most of his life. He has been in the probate genealogy profession since 1990. He formed Finders in 1997 after 7 years at another firm.