When the representative of a probate genealogy company visits potential beneficiaries they have to expect the unexpected and be prepared for knock backs as well as successes.Finders representatives visit beneficiaries all over the UK from Cornwall to the Highlands. Most visits are routine but sometimes they become more interesting, heirs often have stories to tell about their relatives and are almost always fascinated to hear the details of the heir hunters research. One of the pleasures and pitfalls of the job are the beneficiaries themselves.

On a recent case a Finders representative visited multiple beneficiaries in Leeds. They were all part of an extended family and lived within a few miles of each other but to his surprise didn’t know about each other. The trail lead the heir hunter to a rundown street in a notorious area. On approaching the house the representative thought better of knocking but turning to return to his car, the door opened and he was beckoned back and into the filthiest house he had ever seen and invited into a front room that stank of marijuana and was inhabited by friends of the beneficiary in various states of intoxication. The visit was thankfully brief but successful. The heir hunter then found himself on an estate where the sat nav couldn’t find the correct address. He pulled over to ask directions from a group of youths to be told “You don’t want to come ‘round here asking questions like that!” He was about to make a quick getaway when the respondents girlfriend hit him, they all laughed and gave the directions to the beneficiaries address.

On a visit to Lincolnshire the heir hunter found the correct address where the beneficiary’s wife told him that the beneficiary was having a regular Friday night drink at a nearby pub. He called the beneficiary who invited him down. The beneficiary was a very affable man who bought the representative a pint and introduced him to his lawyer who he was at the pub with. They spent a pleasant half hour together the heir pleased to have found out that he was due an inheritance from a relative he didn’t know who had died intestate.

A case in Cornwall gave rise to three brothers discovering something surprising, but for them fascinating, about their family. The father of the beneficiaries had pre-deceased his half sister who three years older than him and had subsequently died intestate. The beneficiaries had no knowledge of the deceased and were adamant that their father was an only child. It turned out that the deceased had been born in 1942 when her mother was already married to the beneficiaries grandfather. They came to the obvious conclusion that their grandmother had not been totally faithful while granddad was away at the war! The representative was embarrassed to reveal this, but the brothers were more interested to find out that they had had an aunt they had never known.

So when visiting potential beneficiaries in cases of intestacy, heir hunters have to combine quick wits, with tact and sensitivity as they never know where they will end up or what they may find out!

Finders have been awarded the ISO 9001:2008 Total Quality Management certification and are the first probate genealogy firm to achieve the international version of this Standard as devised by the IAB (International Accreditation Board). Finders also provide missing beneficiary insurance, which protects trustees and administrators against the event of an unknown beneficiary emerging after an estate, has been distributed. As agents for Aviva they are regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

For further information and advice contact:
Finders, 6-8 Vestry Street, London N1 7RE 020 7490 4935


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.