Did you know that there is regulation available to the probate genealogy industry?

The International Association of Professional Probate Researchers (IAPPR) was set up in 2016 and its aim is to provide reassurance for companies, organisations and members of the public using the services of probate researchers, heir hunters and genealogists. The IAPPR believes such professions are crucial members of the legal services industry. It only has elite Corporate members, so you can be sure you are accessing some of the best and most trustworthy companies in the world.

Probate research involves locating, tracing and identifying the missing or unknown heirs to an estate. There may or may not be a will, but probate research usually applies to people who have no immediate next of kin. The process is often referred to as ‘heir hunting’ and has been popularised by TV shows such as Heir Hunters.

Organisations and individuals that belong to the IAPPR are committed to safe and ethical practices, including a Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct Code.

IAPPR member companies and individuals sign up to a strict code, including assurances that they will behave with integrity and sensitivity, and ensure that their charges and fees are made clear to the client from the start.

They also present all reports clearly and concisely and take special care when dealing with individuals who are vulnerable and who might not have the mental capacity for decisions about finances.

All testimonials and logos on IAPPR member websites must be genuine and used only with the permission of those providing the references. Also, the IAPPR asks for companies to operate environmental policies and to sponsor or donate to a registered charity or charities at least once a year.

Because the Heir Hunters TV series has made probate genealogy so popular, there has been a tremendous growth in the number of firms and individuals offering the service. The industry is unregulated, and there are unscrupulous businesses out there that do not follow the ethical practices promoted by the IAPPR. The association gives consumers and clients recourse against rogue probate research firms.

The association feels that probate researchers, heir hunters and genealogists need experience and legal knowledge in order to carry out their work and complete it to a high standard. Member firms of the IAPPR are in the UK, Ireland, the US, South America, Poland and Germany.

If you are approached by a probate researcher or an heir hunting firm, ask if they are members of the IAPPR. This will give you the reassurance that you need that the company will operate in your interest.

For more about the IAPPR and its aims, see the website. The IAPPR held its inaugural AGM in September, where members from all over the world gathered together to discuss the key issues for the industry in the respective countries, and listened to a presentation about IAPPR media campaigns. Find out more about the AGM here.