What a year—a round-up of 2019

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By Danny Curran

Wow—what a year! 2019 has been a fantastic year for Finders International. We’ve won awards, increased our staff numbers and appeared on the TV, radio and in newspapers and journals UK-wide.

We’re now industry partners of Cilex, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. The association for lawyers, paralegals and other legal practitioners in England and Wales, and is the perfect fit for what we do as our legal support services team offers solicitors searches for missing wills, unclaimed assets, dormant balances and checks for bankruptcy.

As well the private sector, we have always worked closely with local authorities and health boards, often providing free help to find next of kin when someone dies in local authority care and has no will. This year, we became a primary authority partner with the London Borough of Hackney.

We now have over 100 members of staff in our London, Edinburgh and Dublin offices, and this year we received accreditation as a Living Wage Employer. In total, we have reported 1249 research cases and have six new panel firms.

Corporate affiliate members

In addition, we became the first probate research company to become a Corporate Affiliate Member of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute. One of the institute’s key messages is that trading standards are in place to protect society’s most vulnerable people and create level and fair trading conditions, something we are very happy to get behind.

This year, we also received our Cyber Essentials Certification, as it is now more important than ever to be able to demonstrate that we take cyber security very seriously.

Finders International’s work was recognised early in the year when we picked up the ‘Best UK Probate Research Firm’ at the Probate Research Awards 2019. Several staff members also received an award: Best Community Contribution (David Lockwood),  Best Probate Research Paralegal (Katie Watson), Best International Probate Researcher (Ryan Gregory), and Best Human Interest Story (the case of Barbara Williams, represented by Amy Cox from Finders and Lawrence Taylor).

Series 12 Heir Hunters

As ever, we were one of the main firms featured on the hugely-popular Heir Hunters TV show. Now on series 12, the show gives us the chance to show what we do and the pain-staking nature of our work.

There is a consistent demand for spokespersons who can talk about probate research. I took part in a segment on This Morning to discuss family trees, DNA and testing with Margaret Abbots, the sole beneficiary we discovered to an estate worth £300,000. Margaret’s story also featured in the Daily Mail and the Guardian.

While Nick Christou’s inheritance wasn’t quite as substantial, the £70,000 he was entitled to is a life-changing sum for the McDonald’s manager. Nick hadn’t known his late grandfather but the estate turned out to be much larger than we anticipated because Jim Ross had been a member of a lottery syndicate that had been quite successful. Nick won the lottery in more ways than one!

Beneficiary of £75,000

The story made the news, as did our research into the late Jozef Domanski originally from Poland. Because Poland’s records are notoriously difficult to find, tracing Mr Domanski’s rightful heirs took us seven years but we found one—his sister Helena, beneficiary of £75,000.

My article on probate research How to select the right firm featured in the Law Society Gazette’s private client section, and the Law Society Gazette for Ireland ran my article on Giving up the Ghost.

Maeve Mullin, from our Dublin office, took part in Ireland AM to discuss our work, and we also participated in a number of interviews on local radio throughout the UK.

This year, many of our staff became Dementia Friends. This Alzheimer’s Society initiative is about understanding the condition and making our communities better places for those who have the condition to live.

It has been a jam-packed year and I’m looking forward to the same in 2020. All that remains is for me to wish you and yours all the best for the festive season and next year.

To find out about the services Finders International can offer, please visit their website.  Alternatively, you can telephone +44(0) 20 7490 4935 or email: [email protected]