Heir Hunters Association
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Heir Hunters Association News : November 2016
Considering the wide range of opportunities for probate researchers in a growing international market, competition remains fierce more so with the larger firms. FPAR and HHA continue to prosper and the 2 new trade associations have had minimal impact or influence within the market. At least one major firm is under serious investigation for their methods, collecting of evidence and victims is a long process as was found with the ill fated late Susan Dalton case whose estate is now facing court action for the payment of substantial sums due to heirs.
HHA has had some criticism over its entry into direct research work via www.hha-research.org.uk and www.unclaimed-estates.org.uk as a consequence it is ceasing doing research work, but will license all generated leads to HHA/FPAR member license holders. Some 460 current and former HHA members where advised of the program recently. Essentially members can opt to receive leads in 1 week blocks sufficient to keep most members busy for months ahead also get leads to high value estates that have remained unclaimed for many years. Interested firms should contact Maurice Clarke at firstname.lastname@example.org for a fact pack.
1 : Darlingtons Solicitors working with the Heir Hunters Association
Darlingtons Solicitors LLP is an established and growing legal practice with offices based in North and Central London.
The firm has a range of specialist, experienced lawyers and this includes David Maxwell, a specialist in all aspects of probate law.
The firm is pleased to be associated with the Heir Hunters Association and to offer members and visitors to the Heir Hunters websites legal advice on complex probate and inheritance issues.
Whilst the Association focuses largely on intestate estates where relatives and potential beneficiaries are unaware of the death of a relative, there are many other complex situations which arise with estates and administration. These can include: -
1. Where a will is left but the beneficiaries are unclear, such as where a class of potential beneficiaries are stated but without names – such as where a will leaves assets to “nephews or nieces”.
2. Where beneficiaries dispute the validity of a will or other beneficiary entitlements
3. Where trusts are set up in wills and certain beneficiaries believe the trust is being maladministered, deliberately or negligently.
4. General tracing of beneficiaries in a world where people move from country to country far more than has been the case in the past.
5. Difficulties or disputes relating to assets or debts – it is quite common for it to be unclear as to what assets a deceased owns or debts owed. Matters can be very complex where a deceased has assets and/or debts in different countries.
6. Disputes arising where relatives have been excluded from a will.
7. Estates where there are very historical issues of one kind or another.
We would be happy to discuss any of the above issues or any other concerns or questions about probate, trusts or family related issues.
David Maxwell – Specialist probate solicitor tel 0206 951 6666
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2 : The IAPPR put into perspective
We have been asked to
clarify to readers where IAPPR fits into the industry which we are pleased to do
as we do not see this as competing against HHA or FPAR.
Our original review of Probate Trade Associations was first published on http://www.heirhunters-association.org.uk/newsletters/2016/september.htm#1item
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3 : Safe4 Information Management Limited
Secure cloud based management of electronic documents
Safe4 was launched in 2010 and has become established as one of the UK’s leading providers of very secure cloud-based services for the delivery and management of electronic documents. Today Safe4 is used by a number of solicitors, accountants, IFAs, insurance brokers, will writers, and other professional practitioners, as well as by a large international bank. The National Health Service also uses Safe4 across the Greater Manchester area in their emergency planning and resilience teams, and has been adopted by a very high-profile public sector organisation.
In 2015, Safe4 worked closely with the Society of Will Writers to offer a Digital Inheritance Vault service to their members. This facility allows an estate planner to create a secure vault on behalf of each of their clients, into which the essential inheritance documents can be placed – wills, trusts, LPAs, deeds, and other vital information that will be essential when probate is being undertaken. Clients can also utilise the vault to upload their own private information – in such a way that the estate planner cannot have access to them – for holding documents that will be valuable to them during their life. This covers a range of information types, from a scanned copy of the photo page in a passport, to records covering financial and property assets, educational records, treasured family photographs, and many others.
Safe4 will shortly add an asset register facility to the Digital Inheritance Vault, so that the testator can maintain critical data about themselves: NI and NHS numbers, online account details, references to gambling accounts, PayPal, annually-payable subscriptions, email and social media accounts. Crucially this facility will also allow access codes for physical devices to be maintained, so that the information held on computers, smartphones and tablets is not lost when the testator dies.
From a probate perspective, the vault is an invaluable way to collect all of the critical details in a single place. This can also relate to heirs who may not be known when probate commences, but who may nevertheless have to be included as more information is discovered. The flexibility of Safe4 means that appropriate family members and others can be granted read-only access to the vault, and also permitted to upload information if required to prove identification. All actions are scrupulously recorded in an audit trail, and the vault can be maintained in an “inactive” status once a grant of probate has been issued, but still available for reactivation should any undiscovered heirs appear afterwards.
For more information on how Safe4 can assist with probate practitioners and heir hunters, please visit www.safe-4.co.uk , or contact Ben Martin at email@example.com. We will be delighted to assist.
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4 : Record numbers of people turned 100 last year
A record number of people in the UK, some 14,570, are surviving to the age of 100, the latest official data shows.
The number of people aged 100, or over, has quadrupled over the last two decades, according to Office for National Statistics figures for 2015.
In the last decade alone, the number of centenarians has risen by 65% or 5,720.
There has also been a dramatic increase in the number of people aged over 105. Last year there were 850 reaching the age of 105, up from 130 in 1985.
Women outlive men
The figures come as statisticians publish information on the life expectancy of the UK population.
Those born between 2013 and 2015 can expect to live to the age of 79 if they are a boy and 82 if they are a girl.
The ONS said life expectancy had increased by 13 weeks a year since the 1980 to 1982 period for males and by 9.5 weeks a year on average for females.
There are half a million people aged 90 or over in the UK.
The size of this age group has increased over time, and seven out of 10 of them are women.
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5 : Estate administrator must repay improperly spent legal charges
The Administrator to Cynthia Maria Lyons estate has been ordered to reimburse over £87,000 of costs lost to a licensed conveyancing firm used in defending from a claim against other potential beneficiaries of the estate.
Dying intestate in 2011, Ms Lyons left property in both Jamaica and England. Applications for the grant of letters of administration were submitted in competition; one being from the claimant’s supposed niece, Audrene Kerr-Robinson. She subsequently obtained a grant in February 2012, despite initial input of caveats on the Principal Probate Registry. Realising a mistake has been made in regards to professional accountant Kerr-Robinson, correspondence was swiftly made in relation to the error, only to be met with no reply.
The competing, unsuccessful applications made by Jonathan Kerr and George Lyons challenged the accountant’s right to take possession of the estate, claiming they were both close relatives. They contested Kerr-Robinson’s application and asset appropriation, stating she was not a close relative and therefore revocation of her initial grant. In order to prevent the dissipation of the estate in the meantime of obtaining a grant themselves, they sought an interim administrator.
Although defending this initial action, on grounds of error, Kerr-Robinson’s grant was revoked. She was also ordered to deliver estate assets to the appointed interim administrator as well as incurred costs of £20,000 by the judge.
She then unsuccessfully instructed Blueprint Property Lawyers to appeal on her behalf. The firm was not however, licensed to conduct probate or litigations tasks, though in dealings with Kerr-Robinson, had appeared to have engaged in ‘both of these things’ according to Master Matthews, sitting in the Chancery Division. Legal costs sourced from the estate of £86,765 were ultimately lost as the firm subsequently suffered insolvency in 2014. Claiming that Kerr-Robinson had been in breach of her undertaking not to dispose of estate assets in using them to pay legal bills, George Lyons and Jonathan Kerr brought action for her to repay the estate’s £80,000 from her own resources.
Rejecting Kerr-Robinson’s defence that she had acted honestly and reasonably with no fiduciary duty breach, the judge agreed, ordering payment to the estate’s administrator of £86,765, plus interest.
“Her failure to take any sufficient steps to ensure that the monies she believed still to be in the client account were safeguarded and transferred to the administrator, would mean that she was in breach of the order to deliver the property or assets of the estate to the interim administrator and not dispose of or deal with the estate assets in the meantime. [She] was required to keep the monies covered by the undertaking and order safe until transferred to the administrator, and to transfer them once she or he was appointed. She must therefore now account to the administrator for them.”
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6 : Succession proposals for Scotland may impact on more intestate estates.
Further proposed changes to Scottish succession law may mean Scots face even greater pressure in considering how their wealth is passed on following death.
The new law, which comes into force in November 2016, will mean dissolution or divorce from a spouse automatically revokes any provision in a will for the respective ex-partner unless it expressly states otherwise.
Additional to the Succession (Scotland) Act 2016 are proposals from the Scottish Law Commission (SLC) which suggest a far greater number of people could be affected by the two-stage reform. These include rules relating to children’s rights, division of estate where a partner dies intestate, as well as introduction of new rights for unmarried cohabitees.
Research of the 2011 Scottish census showed 237,000 unmarried couples cohabiting. Rights for such individuals on separation and death—although given by the Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006—remain limited, with a cohabitant only being able to seek a share of their deceased partner’s estate through a financial application within sixth months if a will was not made.
Recommendations have been made by the SLC for extension of this period to a year and that ability to claim financial provision should be granted, even if a lack of will fails to indicate this. Such legal alterations may cause delay to the distribution of assets, as well as causing a rise in costs should the surviving partner bring a court action.
Legal rights in Scotland currently mean a testator is unable to disinherit a partner or their children and that such parties have an automatic claim to a share of the estate. This is regardless of whether specific provision has been made within the will. The SLC has suggested further change in regards to this protective mechanism in regards to relative disinheritance. In seeking to simplify the current position, the Commission propose replacing the notion of ‘legal rights’ with a more widely applicable ‘legal share’. Rather than simply including the moveable estate of the deceased, ‘legal share’ would apply to all property and therefore land and buildings.
Such assets are likely to be the most valuable commodities within the estate and thus may force a sale in order to satisfy a shares claim, if said changes are implemented. The SLC has, however, said possibility of paying in instalments through court application should be considered in order to curb such a situation.
Those with and without wills may be prompted by the proposed succession changes to re-examine their personal situations in order to ascertain that their current provisory plans best reflect their intentions following death.
As well as being absent from the Scottish Government’s 2016-17 legislative programme, the second stage of the reform is a continual and uncertain process. Likelihood of proposal implementation is however, only weakened marginally as expressed by solicitors Susanne Beveridge and Nicola Neal. The partner and Senior Solicitor at Edinburgh-based law firm Brodies LLP have stated the implementation of the SLC’s fresh proposals are highly anticipated.
“Cohabitants without a will should give serious consideration to having one drawn up to ensure that their wishes are exercised following their death.”
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7 : Heir-tracing company facing antitrust charges
SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake City company specializing in the little-known business of tracking down heirs to unclaimed inheritances pleaded not guilty in court in late September in a federal antitrust case that’s part of a wider U.S. Department of Justice probe into the industry.
Kemp & Associates is accused of conspiring with fellow heir-tracking companies for more than 14 years so the firms wouldn’t have to compete with each other and driving up costs for heirs who are rightly entitled to the money.
The company and executive Daniel Mannix have denied any wrongdoing. Their lawyers contend the firm provides an important service for people who wouldn’t otherwise know about estates they are entitled to, often from long-lost relatives.
Mannix and the company each are facing one antitrust count. Each defendant could face a fine of up to $1 million or twice the loss to the victims. Mannix could face up to 10 years in prison.
A two-week trial was set for late November, though that’s expected to be delayed because of the complexity of the case.
Defense attorneys declined additional comment.
The industry defends its practices, saying it has helped heirs secure millions of dollars in inheritances. Companies such as Kemp employ workers who sift through probate filings in search of people who have died recently and who may have missing or unknown heirs.
Using court records, genealogical documents and other public data, they track down whoever would be the beneficiaries, then reach out to them and offer to help them document their connection to the deceased and claim the money that otherwise would go to the state.
If they’re successful, the company collects a fee.
The firms typically withhold details such as the name of the deceased or the amount of the inheritance until after they secure a contract.
The probe led by Chicago prosecutors has resulted in plea deals with a California company and two executives. Prosecutors say Kemp and Mannix colluded with one of those executives.
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8 : Consultation on a new vision for archives
<http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/archives-sector/projects-and-programmes/consultation-on-a-new-vision-for-archives/developing-a-future-vision-for-archives/> with users, the archives sector, partners and key stakeholders to develop a new strategic vision for archives. We identified key themes and priorities that we need to address in order to deliver the vision.
<http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/archives/consultation-strategic-vision-for-archives.pdf> (PDF, 0.27 MB).
Does the vision respond to your needs and opportunities? In particular:
* Do you agree with this future vision?
* Is anything missing?
* Should anything be removed?
The three vision themes
* Do they express the unique role archives can play?
* Is anything missing?
* Should anything be removed?
Emerging priorities for action
* Do they set out the key issues that need to be addressed?
* Is anything missing?
* Should anything be removed?
If you would like to be added to our mailing list to be told when the survey opens, let us know via ArchiveVision@nationalarchives.gsi.gov.uk
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9 : Heir Hunter innovative recruitment drive launched
Hartlepool College students are getting the chance to hunt down a new career
People from Hartlepool and the surrounding area are being given the opportunity to forge a career in a fast growing sector thanks to a partnership between Hartlepool College of Further Education and Heir Hunter UK.
Heir Hunter UK, which was set up by husband and wife team Fraser and Tracy Kinnie, specialises in tracing missing beneficiaries to unclaimed estates.
With an increase in the number of bequests waiting to be claimed across the UK, business is booming so the firm has enlisted the help of the College to help boost the workforce from nine to in excess of 50 by next summer.
The firm, based on Queens Meadow Business Park in Hartlepool, also helps families track down long-lost relatives.
Andy Steel, Vice Principal at Hartlepool College of Further Education, said: “Heir Hunter UK is a progressive company with a lot of potential for further growth offering jobs to young people in a niche market.
“They are looking to grow their business by giving jobs to people in Hartlepool and the surrounding areas, and we are delighted to be able to deliver this apprenticeship in partnership with them.
“Successful applicants will follow an apprenticeship programme which has been tailored to suit the company’s business needs.
“We offer a wide variety of apprenticeships which cover all business sectors and we are extremely proud to be the second best college provider of apprenticeships in England.
“We continue to grow our number of apprenticeships delivered at the College and it is great to partner up with Heir Hunter UK and help them develop their business whilst offering quality employment opportunities for young people in Hartlepool.
“The market that Heir Hunter UK operates in is traditionally dominated by London- based companies, so we are delighted to be able to work alongside them and help them give opportunities to apprentices every quarter.”
Five students who were recruited earlier this year are approaching the end of their training, and a further 16 new recruits will join Heir Hunter UK at the end of the month.
Sarah Kinnie, Probate Researcher for Heir Hunter UK, added: “We are delighted to have linked up with Hartlepool College of Further Education as our learning provider to set up this work-based apprenticeship, and this is a relationship we are hoping will develop in the long-term as we continue to grow.
“We will bring in 16 trainees from our recruitment with the College early in November, and there will be an intake every quarter after that. It is an opportunity for the student to see if they like what we do as an organisation, and for us to see if they fit into our plan.
“This is an exciting opportunity to start a career in what is quite a niche industry, and if the trainees follow the plan and progress then the chance is there for them to develop into a Senior Probate Researcher position further down the line.
“The aim at Heir Hunter UK is to have a team of around 50 by next summer, and this link-up with the College is a key part of us filling those roles.”
Recruitment for the November cohort has now opened and those interested in applying can contact the College on 01429 404073, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.hartlepoolfe.ac.uk
HHA member comments
“ Pretty sure this is merely a paid training opportunity as I know from experience of my own son's apprenticeship that a company gets paid around £1500 per apprentice taken/training completed. Putting them through the training programme doesn't necessarily mean they are expanding massively, just an innovative way to earn extra bucks.”
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10 : Digging up Roots in the Boot
By Laura Lee Watson – Italian Heritage Specialist
Digging up Roots in the Bootspecializes in Heritage
Tourism and Genealogical Research throughout Italy for Americans, Canadians,
Australians, British, and Argentinians of Italian descent. We take great pride
in delivering custom and personalized services with passion and attention to
We design our bespoke
to meet your time frame and personal goals. No two family histories are the same
so you can expect a unique approach to planning your itinerary.
We understand the emotions involved as we guide you to
for the first time, walking into the church where your Great grandfather was
baptized and taking a family photo on the steps in front of the house where your
Grandmother was born.
We feel your excitement when you meet living relatives, and they invite you into their home for a little snack which turns into an excellent 3-course meal. Every step of the way we are there for you interpreting.
It tugs at our heart strings when you shed a tear as you find your great grandmother’s grave in the cemetery and see her photo for the first time.
we can help you prioritize your efforts and make the bureaucracy seem a little
less daunting while you are preparing the necessary paperwork for Italian
We break down the brick walls when it comes to researching Italian historical documents. Italian public offices and churches can be very challenging to work with locally, let alone from abroad.
Explore Italy and its vast culture and traditions by following our blog posts. Take a peek at a few of our most favourite posts.
Italian Life – The Culture, Traditions, and Habits in Italy
8 Extraordinary Examples of Southern Italy and Its Charm
I Love Sicily And Keep Returning For More – It’s in my DNA
Italian Heritage Specialist
+39 331 799 8589
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Look out for more great news in the next issue.