The Heir Hunter’s Effect
Industry: Legal Services
Since the return of BBC Heir Hunters for another series we have seen an increase in enquiries from the public seeking to unravel the stories from their pasts.
UK (PRUnderground) May 21st, 2012
Since the return of BBC Heir Hunters for another series we have seen an increase in enquiries from the public seeking to unravel the stories from their pasts. These range in degrees of fantasy and some even appear to be leading somewhere, but quite where is not certain.
Unfortunately, in Finders heir hunting experience these stories have been looked into many times and either have a reason for going nowhere or are based in distorted word of mouth where the tale has become twisted over the years. In other words, the stories of inheritances and lost wealth passed down from generation to generation have never amounted to anything! That’s not to say they won’t one day…
Heir hunters have become used to approaches from the public sometimes with only the most tenuous connection (“my surname is the same as the Deceased – Smith”), but more significantly sometimes with definite information.
Finders remain open-minded and will discuss potential genuine cases where appropriate, without making any promises.
Genealogy remains at the root of many investigations, but Finders now invest a small fortune in data sources that enhance and improve their heir hunting work. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to the heir hunter’s role and often we revert to original records as we are finding increasing numbers of errors or omissions in scanned or manually input and digitised records – we estimate up to 20% of online records in some areas contain errors that can through the heir hunter off-track completely.
Not only is this inconvenient it is a potentially highly serious problem when inheritances are being investigated by the heir hunter. A simple spelling mistake can lead to an heir never being found and beneficiaries not being identified correctly in the first place means that they will never be found.
With the increase in interest in family trees and genealogy as well as heir hunters, people will occasionally stumble upon an interest in an estate and, if they did not know about it when the estate was distributed they may wish to make a claim. Without the involvement of Finders, who obtain insurance policies from Aviva on the strength of their work and are authorised and regulated by the FSA, the administrator may not have taken out a missing beneficiary indemnity policy thinking it unnecessary. Alternatively Aviva have reported a large increase in claims where amateur genealogists have provided incomplete evidence and overlooked entitled heirs, perhaps due to over-reliance on computerised records, wrongly assuming them to be wholly accurate.
Daniel Curran of Finders international probate genealogists has never had a claim against any of his work in 21 years of heir hunting. This is why Aviva have only authorised Finders to self-approve policies – a sign of complete faith in Finders work.
So, whilst Heir hunting continues and the BBC Heir Hunters program continues, it remains more important than ever to remember that there is world of difference between compiling a family tree for your own interest and proving claims on estates whilst heir hunting on a legal inheritance matter. The latter, if completed without the aid of Finders, could land you in court or having to repay your inheritance years after having received it. Be careful!
About Finders Genealogists Ltd.
Welcome to Finders – a fresh approach to finding heirs. We are a leading professional international probate genealogy firm dedicated to serving those faced with the often formidable task of identifying and tracing heirs and locating missing or unknown beneficiaries.