This page tries to answer many of the common problems we get asked, after reading please contact us if you require more information.
F.A.Q (frequently asked questions)
First you have access to the Members area which contains a wealth of knowledge, methods, contact web sites and addresses to enable you to start a Heir Hunting business, or look at in detail to assess if it is for you. Also membership is for anyone who has been approached by a Heir Hunter about a possible inheritance, or wish to assess if they may be due monies from a relative of whom they are unaware. Despite the best efforts of probate detectives (Heir Hunters) some estates still remain unsolved and rely on a beneficiary to come forward having traced their own family tree. Some unsolved estates are shown on the BBC's Heir Hunters program (but old series are still being shown with old (solved) cases being shown.) Once a member you can contact us for advice, ideas and suggestions to help your own quest and also help build a better resource for all members.
There are various options we can offer you.
As a direct enquiry you are often in a good position by being a source of much family knowledge and information than any Heir Hunter could ever find. Maybe you will have already amassed useful information which you can pass onto our researcher. The fact that you are reading this page shows your interest, all you need to do know is to consider Joining the HHA and access our knowledge base or Contact Us
Using a question and answer method together we can pursue your enquiry, looking at options at each stage. We try and find the fastest and most economical methods of finding answers to your queries.
We may be able to recommend a specific member who can help you, or can use our own in house researchers who can work on your project on a daily rate, or various contingency options. Each enquiry is reviewed on its merits and we usually reply within 24-48 hrs to all enquires.
Some free help and advice can be provided if you are a member, but most searches require some investment, firstly in official certificates of births, marriages, divorces, deaths, probate, wills and the like. Then paying to access information from offices or web sites who charge access or search fees, often we can avoid or reduce these dependent on the method used to hire us or a member firm.
Sometimes our forum may have some links or posts which may help, and you can post your quest there (the forum is moderated so its best to contact us first and discuss options before posting on the forum.)
If your quest is interesting we can write a story for our newsletter, this tends to evolve during our discussions and usually happens on successful completion of a search and find.
Chances are it's a scam or hoax, do not reply to the email and read our page about Scams or Hoaxes Legitimate probate researchers and Heir Hunters make first contact by letter or telephone and would only call on your personally by prearranged appointment.
The answer is usually 'no' with the exceptions of spouses, children who have been adopted legally and possibly including illegitimate children.
There is a time limit of 12 years, but this can increase to 30 years from the date of the death.
Interest will normally continue to be paid to the estate for up to 12 years. It depends in what form the estate continues to be held which may result in interest rates varying or some assets increasing in value.
If the cousins also have entitlement the answer is 'yes'. Their entitlement may be more or less than yours depending on where they sit in the order of probate. For an example see The Mitton Estate
An administrator of an estate is someone who takes responsibility for distributing it in a lawful manner similar to an Executor (who would be named in a will). An administratrix is the female form of an administrator.
This is something recommended on final payout of an intestate estate. This type of policy provides cover for beneficiaries of estates should another successful claim be made. Without it, money a person has received from an estate would need to be re-calculated to include any new claim.
Usually any personal property is sold and the proceeds divided up among the claimants to the estate. It may be possible to obtain items of no value from the estate or to pay for items of value. You would need to contact the acting solicitor or administrator to obtain their permission to do so.
The decision to release the name of the deceased lies with the Heir Hunter.
Often the identity is known from the onset or the potential heir can make a reasonable assumption as to the deceased's identity and that side is written into a contract, which is then specific to the estate as being applicable to a known and identifed deceased person.
Some cases where potential heirs are contracted may not be specific guarantees of any inheritance in which case the Heir Hunter would remain guarded with the deceased's identity. There is also the risk the heir may self claim and thus the Heir Hunter gets nil fee for tracking down a heir who would otherwise not be aware of an inheritance.
Self claiming does have some risk and most heirs are wise to use the services of a professional as legal proceedures are complex and of course the value of estates unknown, it is all to easy to spend more than the value of the estate by self-claiming, better to let the HH take the risk!!
Heir Hunters are bound by the DPA, so will not provide information of this sort. However, being aware of the possibility of uniting family members they will gladly pass on any letters to other family members if asked to. Any correspondence asked to be forwarded in such a way should be open for the Heir Hunters perusal, as to avoid obviously not passing on insulting or aggressive post.
Usually somewhere between 6 and 18 months. There is a minimum 'wait' of 6 months to allow other possible beneficiaries to come forward.
Heir Hunters are usually happy to provide clients with an outline family tree once a case is completed. Further copies would have to be purchased.
You can, but it is something we would not advise. If a claim is to be successful it needs to be proved that your entitlement is genuine. This requires in-depth research into your family tree incorporating searches to identify both close and distant heirs, on both sides of the family and the purchasing of necessary Birth Death and Marriage certificates.
It is unlawful and will be costly to you if the estate is not divided as set out by the laws of intestacy.
There will be no cost or fees whatsoever as Heir Hunters undertake all research and expenses at their own risk, and not that of their clients. Sometimes a Heir Hunter may be engaged by a lawyer to find beneficiaries who are entitled under a will but cannot be traced. The cost of that search is met by the lawyer from the estate. If you are tracked down in this way the name of the deceased would be disclosed, but your entitlement still needs to be proved.
You will have been contacted as they believe you to be entitled in the share of an estate. There will be absolutely no cost to yourself or any fees whatsoever. Be suspicious of contacts by email which ask for personal information or to send money, or provide bank details. Genuine Heir Hunters may telephone you. following up with a personal visit or letter.
If you have any concerns please Contact Us and provide the name, address and contact details of the Heir Hunter who has approached you or a member of your family. If you were written to and can scan or copy the letter and other documents and email/post to us we can advise on the credibility.
Heir Hunters charges are a percentage of what you receive. They make no extra charge for the cost of research or any other costs they may incur.
Therefore it cannot equate to more than you will receive. Typical commissions vary from 10-30% of the amount you become due under the estate. Plus VAT if applicable. These fees are taken direct from your share of the estate and you receive the nett amount.
Other beneficiaries may be on different commission rates. You can ask for a better commission, however Heir Hunters risk failing to find beneficiaries and are bringing you good news and are clearly entitled to a fair return on their effort/risk.
A legally adopted child has full rights of inheritance from the family he or she is adopted into. At the same time the adoption process ends any right the newly adopted child had to inherit from any of their original biological family members.
Illegitimate children, should they have a blood tie allowable in probate law, will have an entitlement to inherit. Typically a man who is named as father of a child on a birth certificate would allow that child to inherit if he their father died intestate and had no spouse.
They charge a commission on the amount of your entitlement from the estate and not you personally. When the estate is paid out then you get your share and the Heir Hunter receives their commission at the same time.
By all means read their proposal! Read our article Negotiating with Heir Hunters It is not wise to contract with more than one firm, but you can take your time and take advice from a lawyer or accountant before entering into an agreement with any specific firm.
The first valid claim to be lodged with the Trustee who is holding the deceased's estate applies so if you have signed with several firms you will only pay commission for the ONE Heir Hunter firm that lodges the claim first. Their fees are deducted from your entitlement direct from the estate. with you receiving the balance.
Once you have signed an agreement with a Heir Hunter you need do nothing for now. Once they have collated all the necessary paperwork to present to the Trustee, Treasury or Probate lawyer they will contact you to advise you of what is necessary.
Dependent upon the number of other beneficiaries and how long the case has been under investigation will determine time frames. The procedure cannot be rushed and could take many months or even years if the estate is very complex, high value or there are many beneficiaries.
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