Heir Hunters Association

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Heir Hunters Association News : January 2017 

A Happy New Year to all members of HHA and FPAR and our loyal readers, this month sees us having peaked with subscriber numbers, which heralds a new era.  HHA has now licensed out all its research work and leads generated by various HHA web sites, management of these services provided will be phased in on the control web site www.hha-research.org.uk  HHA BVLIVE continues to expand and prove itself as a vital resources to probate researchers, over 11,300 unclaimed estates are listed, and over 15,700 claimed estates, the only web database listing solved cases which has proven valuable to researchers who have picked up on heirs who have been ignored or missed by administrators of claimed estates. A monthly low cost subscription is a must have service www.hha-bvlive.co.uk

The lead article covers key changes to member options including a new EXECUTIVE MEMBERSHIP similar to a franchise at far less cost and no service fees or charges.

  1. HHA Radical changes for 2017 and beyond
  2.  
  3. Genealogy: researching your family tree - free online course
  4. FPAR Report
  5.  
  6. Everyone in Spanish Village inherit from $210m will
  7. Double billing in estate accounts - a difference of opinion
  8.  
  9. Widow 91, faces eviction by her son
  10. Avoid Barking up the wrong family tree
  11.  
  12. Number of million pound houses rise - survey reports
  13. Jump-start your personal history writing with #52stories project
  14.  
  15. Funeral Zone - the UK's leading funeral resource
  16. HHA subscription options at www.heirhunters-association.org.uk/subscribe
  17. Get our new App www.inheritances.solutions

1 HHA Radical changes for 2017 and beyond 

The HHA was concepted in 2009 with the simple aim of educating people on how to become “Heir Hunters” following the popularity of the BBC TV program “Heir Hunters” which continues to be televised widely.

In return for a quarterly subscription of £20 members could then access a comprehensive bank of knowledge in a privileged members area, and share ideas and get answers to questions.

Later new membership plan options were offered plus a range of Master Class sessions which provided members with a low-cost route into a large profitable industry dominated by a few established probate researchers.

Peaking at over 500 members’ recent years has seen a decline as the industry becomes more competitive and media reports still show probate researchers in a poor light. Spammers sending fraudulent emails from abroad do much to scare and degrade the industry.

There are many unprofessional and illegal practices rife in the industry and clearly a need for these to be exposed and where appropriate brought to justice as several have. This means providing potential heirs to estates with an independent focal point to call on for advice.

Current questions which must be asked and answered include;

?1. is the HHA still needed, if so by whom?

Many earlier members who have built successful businesses or careers seem to no longer see the value of HHA. New members vary from those seeking a part time interest to others seeking a new career or the chance to develop a current family history research business into the world of the “Heir Hunter.”

Despite the competition there remains ample opportunities to carve a successful, interesting and varied career within the probate research industry, specifically with intestate estates.

The Public seem keen to see the HHA exist and it continues to grow as a FOCAL POINT for questions and concerns about individual firms and the probate industry generally. The public benefit at present from a FREE ADVICE service, an issue which clearly has to be continued.

Advice given to the public by established researchers sometimes can appear biased and there are many reports sent to us where a researcher degrades other firms without justification.

There is much “trumpet blowing” and over inflated claims made about service firms which remain unproven. A fair, honest and transparent policy when dealing with heirs and beneficiaries remains a key priority with the HHA.

?2. How is the HHA to be funded?

The Public seem to need and expect a free, impartial service. Trading members seem happy to pay a subscription which has over the period been offered by monthly, quarterly or annual basis member plans.

One firm offers a franchise allowing people to train to become an heir hunter with promises of high earnings but requiring an investment of over £14,000.

Research show big interest in newcomers entering the probate research industry but their needs demand a greater personal service and range of benefits.

Amateur and part time Heir Hunters seem to have declined and a greater need for well trained professionals expands.

?3. So how is HHA to change for 2017 and why?

HHA’ s future is to remain independent but continue to offer ways into the industry for new and fledging people with a keen interest in family history. It will continue to encourage and stimulate interest from the media and the public to try and improve the credibility of the industry.

Members of the HHA will continue to be supported and encouraged based on the type of subscription. We expect the future to be more about QUALITY rather than quantity of members. No specific qualifications are needed to join any of the programs although we continue to recommend and promote www.fpar.org.uk

Executive membership

This is a new and unique quality membership for people wish to become probate researchers from scratch, or develop a current family history research business. It is designed for those wishing to make a viable business in probate research and passes on experience and tips built since 2009.

It is also open to existing HHA members who now wish to take the business more seriously.

Member benefits are similar to a franchise but at a fraction of the cost, member run their own business and have no ongoing fees or commissions to pay HHA, just the single subscription.

Benefits include;

1.   Personalised attention to you and your business, very few people will qualify or want to invest in this type of membership, those who do will be more dedicated and keen to develop their career in the industry.

2.   Access to normal HHA member’s area and forum

3.   Super User Membership to www.hha-bvlive.co.uk

4.   Personal 1:1 meetings (4 a year at Rugby) with Maurice S Clarke

5.   Group meetings with other Executive Members (4 a year/Rugby/Coventry)

6.   Directorship (Optional and voluntary) of Heir Hunters Association Ltd a non profit company limited by guarantee. Quarterly meetings and online video conferencing.

7.   Personalised Email Support

8.   Personalised Telephone support

9.   Administrators Manual (how to process claimed estates)

10.               Members Logo (HHA Executive Member) dated for use on letterheads and/or web site.

11.               You trade under your name or business name, being a Member of HHA with ongoing support and training.

Cost £5,000 per annum – this is sum payable when membership if offered, you cannot just join by paying.

All HHA memberships are administrated by Heir Hunters Researchers Ltd a private limited company owned by Maurice Clarke and his family.

Interested parties for EXECUTIVE MEMBERSHIP should contact Maurice Clarke via email support@hha-uk.com or direct via 07758 205858 for details.

Annual Traditional membership (2017 and onwards)

Benefits remain unchanged but the annual subscription has increased to £85 a year OR £25 for 3 months paid by PayPal.

http://www.heirhunters-association.org.uk/memjoin/members/join.php

Current members (2009-2016)

All current member’s prices and options remain unchanged provided they continue to renew membership, annually or quarterly via PayPal.

Existing Members can apply to become EXECUTIVE MEMBERS.

Consultation Services – Unclaimed Accounts

Maurice Clarke is available for private and confidential consultation on the matter of unclaimed bank, life insurance and saving accounts which number millions.

His study of the unclaimed accounts market is unique having written articles and developed several web sites 2011-2015, now offering his accumulated knowledge and experience to selected clients in the finance industry.

No legislation forces most of the unclaimed funds to be paid out to qualifying owners or their estates. Many accounts exceed 50 years of being dormant and have racked up massive interest entitlement.

Some finance firms, now feel they should be more socially responsible and establish systems for dormant accounts, by so doing media coverage can become more positive and customer/client recruitment and retention can become more positive.

The Media remain reluctant to publicise the issue due to the huge spend by the finance industry on media advertising which they would not wish to put at risk by exposing unclaimed accounts issues.

This market is huge, and it is in the public interest money be released to the rightful owners of such funds, the probate research industry has made minimal headway in tracing owners of unclaimed estates meaning fresh thoughts based on experience and knowledge is needed to release these billions of pounds for the public benefit.

Maurice can be consulted by finance and insurance companies or the media by the day or project, please make initial enquires as below

Maurice S Clarke
Managing Director
Heir Hunters Researchers Ltd
3 St Georges Avenue
Rugby
CV22 5PN
tel 01788 333755
mob  07758 205858

Email: support@hha-uk.com

 

For HHA 2017 represents further innovation and expansion into new areas of opportunity for all those who are members or support our work as clients and/or subscribers.

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2 :  Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree – Free online course

Develop an understanding of genealogy – how to research your family tree and communicate the results – in this free online course.

Join now – starts 16 Jan Duration: 6 weeks 4 hours pw

Certificates available

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Download video: standard or HD

ABOUT THE COURSE

This free online course will help you develop an understanding of basic genealogy techniques and how to communicate your family history. We will consider how to effectively find and analyse sources and explore the potential of DNA testing as applied to genealogy. We’ll help you add historical context to your family history and discuss how to record and communicate research findings in a clear fashion. The course is primarily designed for people at beginner to intermediate level.

Learn how to find and store information on your family tree

We’ll get you to define what you want to research, and consider the best ways to go about finding and storing information on your family tree. A key challenge of genealogy – finding the right person among a number of possible candidates, with ever-changing spellings of surnames – will be considered.

We’ll conclude by introducing the main types of tools genealogists use to communicate their research finds, including creating a family tree and look at how to write a meaningful family history.

Throughout the course, you’ll follow the story of Chris, as she uncovers her own family history, and you’ll be encouraged to share sources and ideas particular to your area of genealogical interest and geographic focus.

The course will not concentrate on a specific country’s records or how to source these, so it will be useful to anyone around the world.

The knowledge you gain from this course may prompt you to explore family history research more deeply or consider a career as a professional genealogist.

You may even wish to take your learning further, with the University of Strathclyde’s online MSc in Genealogical Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies.

Register interests https://www.futurelearn.com/register

REQUIREMENTS

No special knowledge or previous experience of studying is required.

This course will be suitable if you:

·       have no experience with genealogy or family history research;

·       have some experience with genealogical research but want to develop your skills and knowledge further;

·       are a more experienced genealogical researcher but want to learn new searching, analytical or communication techniques or

·       find it difficult to access opportunities for training and development.

·       Join the conversation on social media

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3 :  FPAR REPORT – January 2017 

The monthly report from The Federation of Probate & Asset Researchers is brought to you by Directors Steve Morgan and Elaine Griffin-Singh. 

FPAR welcomes another new member joined December, Carl Towers from Skelmersdale.

As reported in the last FPAR update to HHA, the Board of Directors of FPAR have been reviewing and considering the criteria for membership.  The current situation is that a person can only apply for membership of FPAR in their own right and in personal name.  This was born out of the fact that the original core membership was largely made up of sole traders and partnerships. 

As time has moved on and some of the members have progressed to either being small companies with employees or working with commission-based researchers, and FPAR’s credibility has increased, it was felt that a more corporate membership option should be considered.  The Board has deliberated on this matter for some weeks and has now decided on the way forward.   

Due to FPAR being primarily concerned about standards and professionalism, it was not felt appropriate to create a corporate membership which would have seen business owners being made solely responsible for their staff or associates using the FPAR logo.   With this in mind, FPAR has introduced a members’ discount scheme for employees or associates. 

The £25 one-off application fee will still be required for any potential member and the completion of the online Assessment, but a reduced annual subscription of £24 per annum will be applicable to anyone applying under the name of an existing Member.  Naturally, the Member against whose membership the application is being made must be named and in agreement.  Dependent on which month the new member joined, the subscription would be only £2 per month, paid pro rata for the first year, until the next full calendar year.   

This low cost option should allow for any business owner to encourage or fund membership for all employees or associates.  This will enable the FPAR logo to be displayed on all company paperwork, not just that of the business owner.  It is also hoped that this move will make FPAR membership more conducive to medium and larger sized companies which will continue to build the federation during 2017. 

The new FPAR logo for 2017 is now available. 

For more information on the discount scheme, membership, or for any other enquiries, please go to:  support@fpar.org.uk 

FPAR offers its’ very best wishes for the New Year and through 2017 to HHA subscribers and the Newsletter readership.

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4 :  Everyone in Spanish Village inherit from $210M fortune

Residents of Cerezales del Condado, a tiny village in the northwestern Spanish province of Leon were in for a life-changing surprise when the founder of Corona beer left each of them with almost $2.5 million each in his will.

Antonino Fernández, former Chairman of the Grupo Modelo group in Mexico, died at the age of 99 in August last year. Even though he was a billionaire at the time of his death, the initial part of his life was spent battling poverty in Cerezales del Condado.

Born in 1917, Fernández was forced to leave school at the age of 14 as his parents could not afford the fees. In 1949, at the age of 32, Fernández moved to Mexico to work at his wife’s uncle’s company, Grupo Modelo. Starting off as a warehouse worker, he climbed up the ranks slowly, becoming the CEO in 1971, a position he held till 1997.

Fernández remained the Chairman of the Board until 2005 and the Honorary Life Chairman of Grupo Modelo, which manufactures the Conona Extra beer, until his death.

The billionaire remained close to his roots in Spain and after his death, left $210 million to the residents of Cerezales, with each villager inheriting over $2 million.

For Maximino Sanchez, the owner of the only bar in the village, Fernández is nothing short of a hero. The Diario de León newspaper quoted Sanchez as saying: “We never had any pesete (money) before. I don’t know, what we would have done without Antonino.”

Fernández’s charitable deeds have been acknowledged by the former King of Spain, Juan Carlos, who honored the philanthropist for his contribution to his motherland. An organization established by Fernández in Leon — Soltra — worked on providing disabled people with employments opportunities.

He is also credited with setting up the ‘Cerezales Antonino y Cinia’ Foundation in his village in 2009, to support rural initiatives in the region.

Corona Extra is the second-most imported bottled beer in the United States, boasting of $693 million in annual sales. 

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5 :  Double billing in estate accounts – a difference of opinion

One of the larger probate research firms started some controversial arguments within the membership of HHA/FPAR over certain costs being levied in the administering of estates.

    http://www.angliaresearch.co.uk/articles/double-charging-unethical-unjustifiable-and-rife/

Members were quick to defend their own actions and those of the smaller firms who by and large deal with smaller value “bread and butter” cases.

###

If a researchers contract allows for certs etc to be charged this is a legitimate cost against the estate applicable only to THEIR CONTRACTED CLIENTS.

AR is correct such costs cannot be levied on THEIR clients share or those of non signers unless they agree.

###

ARS's view reads as very honorable but is totally discriminatory against low value estates and inheritances. The cost of certificates £50-£150 is negligible against estates where the commission equates to thousands of pounds but not where commission is a few hundred pounds. It is indeed actually possible for a researcher to be out of pocket where there is very low value and lengthy tree stems.

I have always charged for certificates and other direct costs within my contractual process.  I consider that as long as all potential costs are explained and transparent, there is no problem - I have never received a complaint about such charges.  Indeed, a set of certificates is required to submit a claim so is considered by my legal associates as legitimate as they would need to be required by an Administrator if not already purchased by the researcher.

I consider that the commission element received pays for our 'time and expertise'.  If one applies the same rules to the Administrator roll; the Administrator is permitted to recoup expenses against documents, legal charges, mileage etc so why is a Probate Researchers roll any different?

M*** is correct, where there is a shared Estate or non-signed clients, my costs have only been deducted from my clients portions. 

I think if anyone had the energy to fight back against ARS press release - they could be accused of being elitist and discriminatory towards low value estates and inheritors, unlike the small researcher who, through operating a fair and reasonable system of recouping and low commission rates, brings about the resettlement of low value estates.  It is through the attitude of the bigger firms who only seek to work on high value estates and charge high commission rates that thousands of unsolved cases remain on the BV list.

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6 :  Widow, 91, faces eviction by son

A 91-year-old widow faces eviction from her £2m farmhouse after a falling out with her pensioner son over a derelict barn and one acre of land.

Sidney Davies, 70, claimed he was promised the barn and land, part of his parents' Worcestershire farm, by his father more than 40 years ago.

He gave up his own home to move into a caravan there and convert the property, but that was never finished it is now "derelict".

But after his father's death, his mother, Margaret, failed to honour the promise that the acre of the farm, in Suckley, would be his.

Now, after a series of defeats before judges, Mrs Davies, who has lived on the farm since 1959, faces being thrown out of her home.

Appeal Court judges have confirmed orders for her eviction and sale of the farm so that her son can get what he is owed.

During a previous hearing in the five-year dispute, Judge Daniel Pearce-Higgins QC lamented the family breakdown that had led to the costly battle.

"This is unhappy and to my mind unnecessary litigation," he said, "the product of family disharmony that appears to go from one generation to another."

Three generations had lined up against each other in court, with Sidney on one side and his mother, brother John, 68, and his own son Greg, 31, on the other.

"The evidence suggests Mrs Davies fell out with her brother. She has fallen out with her son, Sidney, who has fallen out with his two brothers and his sister," he said. "Sidney's grown-up son, Gregory, has aligned himself with his uncle and sat by his side in court."

Judges were told that Mrs Davies moved from Yorkshire to the farm, on the edge of the Malvern hills, with her husband, Thomas, in 1959.

Sidney, the family's second son, said he was promised by his father in the early 1970s that he could have the barn and 1.3 acres of surrounding land for £6,000.

His father was happy with the arrangement and happy that the land would stay in the family as he was "not tolerant of other people and outsiders".

 

"I recall very specifically that the final deal that I would buy the barn was agreed whilst I was working on the roof." Sidney said in his evidence. "We were talking as I was working, as he was fetching tiles for me."

The price was never paid, but instead Sidney invested the same amount of money in the family business.

Work began on creating the idyllic barn conversion where Judge Pearce-Higgins said Sidney dreamed he could live "the good life".

He moved onto the land - but the work was never completed and the deeds were never handed over to him.

Sidney's father died in 1996, when ownership of the farm, including the disputed barn and land, passed into the name of his mother alone.

He believed she would honour the promise, but gradually realised that it would never happen, which he found difficult to accept.

By then, he had lived on the land for over 20 years and spent thousands of pounds doing up the barn.

In 2011, he launched court action against his mum and, in 2013, Judge Pearce-Higgins found that there had been an agreement that the land would be his.

Sidney had relied upon his father's promise when, in 1975, he sold his home in Rugby to move initially into a caravan beside the barn.

Mrs Davies had acknowledged the existence of the agreement in 1996, but was reluctant to see the land leave the farm, he said.

However, the judge decided that handing the barn and land to Sidney now would likely lead only to further trouble with his mum and brother John living as neighbours.

He decided instead to put a price on the Sidney's rights and ordered Mrs Davies to pay him £68,000, together with more than £50,000 in legal bills.

To provide security for the debt, Judge Pearce-Higgins put a charge - effectively a mortgage - over the whole of Mosewick Farm.

Sidney moved off the land, but his mum failed to pay, leading to orders that she get out so that it can be sold to pay him what he is owed.

The case was heard at the Court of Appeal

Appealing, Mrs Davies argued that it was wrong to secure the debt - now standing at more than £150,000 due to interest - against the whole farm, when the dispute was about only a derelict barn and 1.3 acres of land. 

But Lord Justice Briggs, who heard the appeal with Lord Justice Longmore, said Sidney, who now lives with his second wife in Birmingham, was entitled to enforce his security against the whole farm.

"Mr Davies has now, for a considerable period of more than two years, been trying to realise his interest and payment of his costs on the genuine assumption that his charge was over the farm, rather than the barn land," he told the Court of Appeal.

"He vacated the barn land as ordered by the judge on that basis. Throughout that time, Mrs Davies has done nothing to raise the funds to make that payment. She has taken a variety of steps to resist enforcement."

During another hearing in the case last year, Lord Justice Vos said the best possible outcome for Mrs Davies would be for her to keep her farm.

He urged the parties to find a way of settling the dispute without further "hostile family litigation".

But 13 months later, the case was back in court, as Mrs Davies pursued her appeal.

Rejecting it, Lord Justice Briggs said it would be a "very sorry outcome" if Mrs Davies were now to lose her home at the ripe age of 91.

She was given until November 24 2016 to pay what she owed, or an eviction notice and order for sale of the farm would take effect.

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7 :  Avoid Barking Up the Wrong Family Tree

There is nothing more frustrating than finding out the ancestors you've been so diligently searching aren't really yours. That the hours and money you've spent on your research has been wasted. That the ancestors you've come to know and love aren't connected to you by history or blood. Yet, it happens to most of us at one time or another. Genealogy research isn't perfect. A lack of records, incorrect data, and embellished family stories can easily send us off in the wrong direction.

How can we avoid this heartbreaking result in our own family research? It isn't always possible to avoid wrong turns, but these 8 steps may help keep you from barking up the wrong family tree.

1. Don't Skip Generations

Skipping generations in your research is the most common mistake made by beginners. Even if you think you know everything about yourself and your parents, you shouldn't skip directly to your grandparents.

Or your immigrant ancestor. Or the famous person that you've been told you're descended from. Working your way back one generation at a time greatly lessens your chances at attaching the wrong ancestor to your family tree, because you'll have the supporting documents - birth records, marriage certificates, census records, etc. - to support the link between each generation.

2. Don't Make Assumptions About Family Relationships

Family terms such as "Junior" and "Senior" as well as "aunt" and "cousin" were often used very loosely in earlier times - and still are, even today. A designation of Jr., for example, may have been used in official records to identify between two men of the same name, even if they were unrelated (the younger of the two being called "Jr.").

You also shouldn't assume relationships between people living in a household unless it is specifically stated. The sole adult-aged female listed in your great-great grandfather's household, may indeed be his wife - or it could be a sister-in-law or family friend.

3. Document, Document, Document

It’s vitally important in genealogy to write down how and where you find your information.

If it was found on a Web site, write down the title of the site, the URL and the date. It is also helpful to either copy the information word-for-word, or print out hard copies for reference in case the data is taken offline or changes. If the data came from a book or microfilm, write down the title, author, publisher, publication date and the repository. If your family information came from a relative, document who the information came from and when the interview took place. There will be many times when you'll run across conflicting data, and you'll need to know where your information came from.

4. Does it Make Sense?

Constantly review all new information that you add to your family tree to make sure that it is at least plausible. If the date of your ancestor's marriage is only seven years after they were born, for example, you have a problem. The same goes for two children born less than nine months apart, or children born before their parents. Does the birth place listed in the census correlate with what you've learned about your ancestor? Have you possibly skipped a generation? Look at the information you've gathered and ask yourself, "Does this make sense?"

5. Get Organized

The more organized your genealogy research, the less likely that you'll mix up information or make other simple, but deadly, mistakes. Choose a filing system that works with the way you do research, making sure that it includes a way to organize both your papers and certificates, and your digital documents and other computer files.

6. Verify Research Done By Others

It's hard enough avoiding your own mistakes, without having to worry about the mistakes of others as well. Publication - whether in print or online - doesn't make anything fact, so you should always take steps to verify previous research before incorporating it into your own.

7. Rule Out the Other Possibilities

You know that your great-great-grandfather lived in Virginia around the turn-of-the-century, so you look him up in the 1900 U.S.census and there he is! In truth, however, this isn't him - just someone else with the same name living in the same area during the same time period. It is a scenario that actually isn't all that uncommon, even with names you might think are unique. When researching your family, it is always a good idea to check the surrounding area to see if there is someone else who could fit the bill.

8. Turn to DNA

Blood doesn't lie, so if you really want to be sure a DNA test may be the way to go. DNA tests can't currently tell you who your specific ancestors are, but they can help narrow things down quite a bit

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8 :  Number of million-pound houses rises survey reports

A total of 6,684 houses sold for at least £1 million in the first half of 2016, according to Lloyds Bank

The number of houses sold for at least £1 million has risen by 12% in the first half of 2016 compared with the previous year, a report has suggested.

But the average price of a top-end property is less than it was two years ago, according to Lloyds Bank.

It found the average price of a home sold above £1m has dropped by £135,251 between 2014 and 2016.

The bank said the price drop was partly due to a reduction in sales at the higher end of the market.

The research found 6,684 homes were sold for at least £1m during the first six months of 2016, a 12% rise on the 5,946 sold in the same period in 2015.

The report said the average price of a property selling for more than £1m had dropped from £1,862,578 to £1,727,327 over a two-year period.

Changes in stamp duty in late 2014 made it more expensive for buyers to purchase a home which was worth more than £937,500.

The bank found north-east England had the biggest rise in the number of million-pound property sales with an 83% increase - due to 11 purchases.

The largest number of purchases took place in London where there were 4,238 sales of million-pound properties.

Scotland was the only part of Britain where sales of houses above the £1m mark have fallen over the last year with a 33% decline, according to Lloyds Bank.

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9 :  Jump-start your personal history writing with #52Stories project 

FamilySearch is encouraging us to write about our personal history every week for the next 52 weeks.

Called the #52Stories Project, the initiative is about defining the dash between our date of birth and eventual date of death with stories about our life. FamilySearch says, “On nearly every headstone, no matter how plain or ornate, is carved one universal symbol. It’s a simple horizontal line—a dash—separating two significant dates.”

The #52Stories Project is divided into 12 themes, from Goals and Achievements to Education and School and Holidays and Traditions, providing 12 different questions for each theme for a total of 144 questions.

“The idea is to write one brief story about your life, past or present, every week this year. … At the end of the year, you’ll have 52 notches in your personal history dash. That’s 52 opportunities to capture the story of your life — 52 chances to shape your family’s intergenerational narrative.”

Some of the questions are: What was your childhood home like? What were your best subjects at school? Who was your best friend? What kind of things did you collect in your childhood bedroom? The full list of questions is here.

The FamilySearch blog post with the details is here

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10 :  Funeral Zone – the UK’s leading funeral resource

It began with a mission to help the bereaved

Funeral Zone began in the summer of 2012, a passion project by Exeter-based childhood friends Ed Gallois and Kevin Homeyard.

A friend of theirs had passed away that summer and they couldn’t believe how little help there was online for the bereaved. Any help there was lay scattered across dozens of obscure websites.

So they decided to do something about it. Working from home in the evenings, while juggling full-time jobs and family commitments, they began building a central online resource where the bereaved could get all the help they needed around the time of the funeral, in one convenient place.

The more research they did, the more they realised that the funeral profession also needed help. Here was a group of dedicated individuals, guiding people through the most difficult time of their life, but who were behind the times when it came to using the Internet to help the bereaved.

Knowing that they needed some industry-specific advice, Ed and Kevin went to visit their local funeral director Sillifant & Sons. Martin, the owner of the family firm, had looked after their grandmothers when they passed away, so they knew they were in safe hands.

Over a cup of tea and biscuits, the friends talked about their plans for Funeral Zone and told Martin they wanted to build online services to help the bereaved and the funeral profession. Martin agreed it seemed like a good idea and said he would provide feedback while the website was being built and would test the services when they went live.

Fast forward to the spring of 2013 and a beta version of the site was launched. Funeral Zone was born.

Within weeks of its soft launch, the founders knew Funeral Zone would be a valuable resource for the bereaved. People were coming to the website to read articles on how to arrange a funeral, others were choosing funeral directors from the site’s listing pages, and Martin was providing Funeral Zone’s free online obituary service for all of his clients, somewhat taken aback by the level of interest from the bereaved.

In the summer of 2013, Funeral Zone officially launched at the National Funeral Exhibition in Stoneleigh, Warwickshire. Many funeral directors from all over the UK signed up to the website and the feedback from the bereaved was overwhelmingly positive.

Today, Funeral Zone is the leading funeral resource in the UK, recording over 5 million visits since its launch. The website offers many more innovative services, including independent reviews of funeral directors so the bereaved can make an informed choice at their time of need.

Funeral Zone now operates in Australia and South Africa, with plans to expand to other countries in the near future. The company is no longer Ed and Kevin but a dedicated and talented team of 12 others.

The benefits of Funeral Zone to the bereaved has been proven many times over, and the services currently being built will help bring together more people around the world to help the bereaved.

It's a story everyone at Funeral Zone is proud of and it started with two childhood friends from Devon believing that they could make a difference.

Progress so far https://www.funeralzone.co.uk 

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Look out for more great news in the next issue.

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