What To Do If You Are Contacted By An Heir Hunter

Nowadays, people are more familiar with the work of probate genealogists or heir hunters as they are more commonly known, thanks to programmes such as BBC1’s Heir Hunters, and information available online.

It is still important, though, that you know what being contacted by an heir hunter means, and what you should watch out for.

Who or what are heir hunters?

Heir hunters are companies or organisations who seek out the rightful heirs to an estate when someone has died intestate, i.e. without leaving a valid will. They usually take a percentage of the estate once they have traced the rightful beneficiaries – with legitimate heir hunting firms such as Finders International you will never be asked to pay money in advance (i.e. before you receive your inheritance) and you will not pay for our services yourself.

If you are contacted by an heir hunting firm, make sure they make their fee information clear to you. Finders International provides clients with an agreement form that specifies the commission.

Whose estate am I inheriting?

In the main, Finders International deals with the estates of people who have passed away without leaving a valid will and with no surviving spouse or children (who would be their normal heirs). An heir hunting firm looks at the family tree of the person who has died and might go back a generation or two to find relatives, which is why you might not know or have ever met the person who has died.

Through our Unclaimed Estates websites, we provide assistance to help the rightful heirs to inherit estates – if an estate remains unclaimed, it will eventually be passed to the state, or government – and you can check out the list of unclaimed estates here for people who have died without leaving a valid will who are of Irish origin.

What about my other family members?

If you are contacted by an heir hunting firm, we would encourage you to contact your siblings and decide together if you want to engage the heir hunting firm’s services. If you don’t have siblings, contact your cousins if they are in the same family branch related to your relative.

Are heir hunters regulated?

Unfortunately, there is not a central regulatory body for heir hunters – although individuals or different organisations might hold accreditations and memberships of various bodies that indicate professionalism.

Finders International works according to a professional code of conduct. We are also members of the Professional Association of Legal Services, and we are authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. All of our case managers belong to the Association of Professional Genealogists.

Finders International research has shown that there are mistakes running at about 50 percent on all Irish intestacy matters, which means that not only are legally entitled beneficiaries missing out on what is rightfully theirs, but that solicitors and local authorities in Ireland are leaving themselves open to the risk of substantial claims.

If you would like to discuss any intestacy matters with us, please contact us on +353 (0)1 691 7252 for an informal, confidential and no-obligation discussion.Contact Us Now