My family has never had any money, what happens to the family tree and what about my relatives personal effects?These questions – and many others – are what we call the frequently asked questions of probate genealogy and heir hunting firms. Naturally, our website gives you all the information you need to know if you have been approached by us as the potential heir to an estate, or you believe you might be due an inheritance.However, it is worth repeating some of those points here, as most people have a lot of queries when it comes to the work we do.Will I have to pay your costs?No – the fee we take is a percentage of the estate, so there is no personal cost to you. If the claim is unsuccessful, you will NOT be liable for any costs.

My family has never had any money, so why am I a potential heir to an estate?

It is amazing how common this reaction is! A lot of the time, we can be contacting people and telling them about relatives they did not previously know about – relatives who may have had a lot of money or possessions.

What happens to the family tree you draw up?

If you choose to work with us, you are entitled to one free copy of the family tree. As the copy we supply you with will have been meticulously researched and verified, you can be confident that you are receiving an accurate representation of your family.

Many people often end up ordering additional copies – family trees make great gifts, after all.

Can’t I just do the research myself – and avoid paying your fees?

Of course you can. A lot of the information we use is freely and publicly available. The difference is that we do probate genealogy research every single day and we are also very familiar with what is required to release an estate to the rightful beneficiaries. You will also need to be able to produce the relevant birth, marriage and death certificates.

There is also the risk that if the estate is not divided according to the rules on intestacy, this will be unlawful – and very costly to you.

What happens to the property of my relative?

Usually, the property of the relative is sold and then divided up amongst the estate’s rightful heirs. If, however, there is something of no value (such as a personal letter) then it can be obtained by writing to the solicitor in charge and asking for it. If it an item of value (such as jewellery) it can be paid for.

And finally – as you know our firm Finders and its work has been featured on every series of BBC Heir Hunters since the programme began, so those contacted by us sometimes wonder if they will appear on the TV programme.

The answer is – only if you want to! And we would ask for your consent and approval before passing on any details to the programme producers.

Another thing to bear in mind is that programme producers tend to look for interesting stories, or relatives with unusual backgrounds. Therefore, if you story isn’t a very exciting one (sorry!) it may not be of interest to them for the programme.

filelibrary Gifts, IHT and Donatio Mortis Causa
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.