As we’ve said previously, family circumstances can change a great deal over the years and we encounter all kinds of situations through our work to trace missing wills, locate unknown descendants and ensure estates are distributed to the rightful heirs.This week, our case on BBC Heir Hunters featured Eric Stone. On this occasion, Mr Stone had left a will but his will had not been updated since the death of his elder brother two years before his own demise.

Mr Stone had left everything to his brother James, but James like Eric had not had children so a missing heir could not be found through that line. The two brothers had also had an older sister (also deceased) and she too had no living descendants.

Case manager Amy Louise Moyes looked at Mr Stone’s aunts – the same problem surfaced here too. Many of the aunts had remained spinsters until they died, whilst the one aunt who had married had married late and she too left behind no descendants.

Isn’t it interesting that so many members of the same family did not have children? Of course, such circumstances force probate genealogists such as ourselves to search far and wide for the rightful inheritors of an estate. Luckily we have many researchers and tracing agents we can call on to help in our work, which can often send us in many directions.

In some cases, we can uncover family members who do not realise they are heirs to an estate, and in the case of Mr Stone it was a substantial estate. Thanks to a lot of painstaking work and research, our team was able to uncover a cousin on the other side of Mr Stone’s family. She had not realised Eric had died, but she did remember him well.

If you missed the episode and you would like to see our hard-working team in action, you can catch up on the programme on the BBC iPlayer here.

Our other case on Heir Hunters this week focused on Alan Parnell, whose will proved to be invalid. Mr Parnell’s circumstances were very interesting indeed. Following a bad injury sustained during the Normandy beach landings in the Second World War, Mr Parnell had lost his leg. Despite his disability, however, he had gone on to live a full and rewarding life and had been an active member of his local church.

Every situation we encounter is unique. It has its own set of challenges and its own fascinating glimpse into the past. We come across old photos, official records such as parish notices of marriage and birth certificates, and we research old newspaper clippings for notices of births, marriages and deaths.

Behind the photos and official records, though, are human lives and we never forget this incredibly important fact. It is always foremost in our minds when we are investigating cases and dealing with relatives and friends, and it is why we work to our own professional code of conduct so that we can assure people that tact, professionalism and thoroughness are at the heart of everything we do.

If you would like to find out more about the services of Finders, please feel free to read more about our services here. Remember, you can follow our activities on Twitter too and we would welcome your thoughts on our work and the cases we investigate as part of Heir Hunters.

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by Daniel Curran

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.