Heir Hunters is the modern name for people or firms who trace missing beneficiaries to deceased peoples estates across the world.
Making a will - a testament or instruction as to whom inherits your assets after your death is not compulsory, but a voluntary act which many people make to ensure the people they want inherit money, property, businesses and personal belongings.
For various reasons some people just do not make a will, and if that is the case the law takes over to ensure the deceased's assets are distributed to their next of kin, some potentially that they are not aware of, or have ever met. If no kin is ever found or comes forward to claim then the state inherits the estate.
Families used to spend their entire lives in a small area, as did their descendents, however modern day society has changed.
More people emigrate to other countries to live, marriage is less common, marriages often end in divorce, or just split and form new relationships.
Many people live with "partners" without legal ties and countless other trends of modern society. Many modern families consist of partners who have had previous relationships or marriages. Children within a typical modern family unit may have different parents.
The result is a potential nightmare for anyone trying to trace a deceased persons estate, hence the growth of "Heir Hunters" whose role it is to track down and prove the family link with the deceased and thus claim a share of their estate on behalf of their beneficiary client.
Heir Hunters who risk not finding any beneficiaries to a particular estate may charge a contingency (no win no fee basis) commission ranging from 10-30% of the estates value, sometimes with a maximum fee limit. Or, as is more common a fixed fee based on the time spent in research.
Overall the profession is not regulated and some leading organisations feel fees should be capped or controlled in other ways to avoid exploitation of beneficiaries contacted by Heir Hunters. However typical Heir Hunters working on a "no win no fee" basis carry heavy risks if they fail to find beneficiaries, or find the estate is too small to cover their costs of the search.
Many beneficiaries are rightly suspicious when being contacted by a Heir Hunter, and disbelieve their good fortune. Even if the link to the estate is successful it can take months, sometimes years to realise the windfall dependent upon the size and complexity of the estate.
Many beneficiaries are often pleased at learning family history which they were potentially unaware of, or had lost touch, and see any money as an added bonus.
Even then the amount they eventually receive, if any, can depend on both the size of the estate and the number of beneficiaries. In some cases in can be a few hundred pounds another time hundreds of thousands, potentially at least, but rare millions. Indeed more research can exclude some unlucky beneficiaries when other family members inherit due to their greater dominance in the "family tree."
The UK based Heir Hunters Association was set up in 2009 to provide advice and support to newcomers to the profession and unlock many of the mysteries, facts and fallacies. Members of the HHA have unique access to the members area which helps new comers understand what probate research entails and how to undertake the demanded roles and opportunities.
Beneficiaries who have been approached by Heir Hunters may be rightly suspicious of signing away a large proportion of often an unknown amount and need unbiased advice about what to do for the best. Fear of loosing out on money is often an incentive to sign, but is it the best and only option?
Clearly as society becomes more mobile worldwide, and family units continue to fragment, tracing errant beneficiaries is a growing need.
In return for the modest subscription of just £25.00 prospective Heir Hunters can Join the Join the Heir Hunters Association : Learn how Heir Hunting works from expert Heir Hunters across the world and share in the profits offered by this interesting and challenging business or part time interest.
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