With over twenty years’ experience, the CEO of Finders International, Danny Curran, was featured on CEO Today Magazine giving his expert advice on the importance of family tree verification, how to spot a genuine probate research firm and other top tips to ensure an estate is correctly distributed.

When someone has died without leaving a will, it is vital to contact a reputable probate genealogy firm to help with the estate administration process. However, some solicitors are deterred due to the probate industry being unregulated. This is why Finders International follow their own voluntary codes of conduct and regulatory regimes to provide reassurance for the solicitors dealing with the estate and beneficiaries who are contacted.

Checking their credentials

When looking for a professional and genuine probate research firm, check their website to ensure they are who they say they are as well as looking at their list of offices around the world. Mr Curran highlighted that firms can appear to list ‘offices’ around the globe by placing keywords on their website and by using an impressive serviced ‘office’ address in a large city like London.

It is also important to check whether a company is a member of a voluntary self-regulatory body such as the International Association of Professional Researchers, Genealogists and Heir Hunters (IAPPR).  The IAPPR are a unique international body representing professional firms all over the world and follow their own codes of conduct.

Family tree verification and insurance is important

Danny mentioned in the article that it is often easy for solicitors, administrators or executors to take a family members word as fact or children, siblings and half-siblings can be overlooked or forgotten. While these are not deliberate, it is always best to pass the case to a probate research firm to verify the family tree ensuring the estate is correctly and fairly distributed.  Finders International offer four basic fee models to best suit the client. These are:

  1. Contingency fees, where a beneficiary signs a percentage-based agreement with the probate research firm;
  2. An estate/trust contingency fee, where the executor agrees to a percentage-based fee from a named beneficiary’s entitlement;
  3. A budget fee paid by the estate;
  4. A fixed fee paid by the estate.

The article also highlighted that you should be wary of low initial costs. Cheap does not necessarily mean better and it can often ring true that you get what you pay for.  Furthermore, it is important to have an insurance police taken out against missing or unknown beneficiary claims. While you may be certain you have identified all next of kin, an insurance police will protect beneficiaries on any further claims – particularly as there is an increase in the number of claims where no traditional documentation (for example a birth certificate) exists and DNA evidence is being used in its place.

These top tips are here to help you make safe and meaningful decisions when administering an estate and Finders International can help you with their family tree verification service. To find out more, please visit www.findersinternational.co.uk or you can email [email protected] or telephone +44 (0) 20 7490 4935