Heir Hunters – rewarding research

We often talk about the international reach of Finders, but what does that actually mean?

This week’s BBC Heir Hunters programmes which focused on cases we have worked on included the story of Derek Lynsdale and it truly did demonstrate how far and wide families can scatter and how important it is that we as an organisation are able to explore all avenues in our search for missing beneficiaries to an estate.

The episode looked at the case of Derek Lynsdale, who died without leaving a will. Mr Lynsdale had been a quiet man who had lived with his mother until her death and attended the nearby church on a regular basis. He had not married, nor had children but he had been born in Burma so case manager Ryan Gregory had to look at the options for tracing missing beneficiaries who might also have been born in Burma.

The history of Derek’s family as it unfolded on the programme was incredibly interesting. Ryan’s painstaking research via the British Library took him back to Derek’s paternal grandfather who had been a British Army doctor working in Burma. Derek’s father had siblings and through them, Ryan was able to discover a cousin of Derek’s and further heirs to the estate living in Australia.

As our founder and managing director Daniel Curran said in the programme, one of the most rewarding aspects to the work that we do is that we often bring families good news – either that they have inherited a life-changing sum of money, or that we are able to put them in touch with family members they might not have known about. This was the case with Derek’s cousin Susan. She was the daughter of his father’s brother (his cousin) and she remembered Derek from their younger years in Burma.

Of course, Burma was invaded by the Japanese during the Second World War and many of the British families living there were forced to flee. This had been the case with both Derek and Susan’s families, although their journey back to the UK had taken them to different destinations and they had not seen each other for many years.

Susan was able to remember her early years in Burma, but they had come to an abrupt end when the Japanese invaded the country.

As is always the case in the work we deal with, we do need to work quickly and work with often limited information. Probate genealogists such as Finders can be asked to look into estates by local authorities or local solicitors, and we keep an eye on the Bona Vacantia List, a list kept by HM Treasury which details all estates where people have either died without leaving a will or the beneficiaries are unknown.

Ensuring the rightful heirs are found is key to our work and we look at all angles of a case to find those heirs – looking at both sides of a family, searching out birth, marriage and death certificates and contacting prospective heirs wherever they may live.

Finders International attributes its success to providing a fresh and dynamic approach to our work and a commitment to a no-nonsense, fast and friendly service. Check out the full range of our services here.


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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.