Heir Hunters

baker

Well-known Member
Hi all :hiya:... long time no post. Hope everyone is keeping safe and well.

Yesterday we received a phone call (I took the call as the wife was at work) from a Heir Hunter claiming the missus is a beneficiary to an estate where the distant relative didn't leave a will. They proceeded to give additional details such as:
  • Who the deceased was
  • The value of the estate
  • The number of the beneficiaries
  • How my wife was related to deceased
The details did seem to link my wife to the deceased (from my limited knowledge at the time).

They then went on to say they can help my wife claim what is due, but would need to contract them to carryout this on her behalf - and quoted 3% (+vat). They also went on to say they had featured on the BBC's Heir Hunters (never seen/heard of it) etc. - I then started to then think this was just some scam, I so I took their details so I could do some research into the company.

...Before I could even make it back to my computer to google, the phone went again... another Heir Hunter (different company). They reeled of similar information as the first.

I thought this seems strange and WTF is going on... 30 minutes later, another call and another heir hunter. This one let on that they had already spoken with both of my wife's sisters.

I eventually got to do some digging online and found that yesterday this relative was added/published to the publicly available" unclaimed estate" list on the .gov website. Which I guess is what triggered all these HHs.

I messaged the missus to ask if she had randomly heard from her sisters at all that day - she said no, but she had 4 voicemails from Heir Hunters on her mobile. She contacted her sisters and confirmed that they too had been contacted by numerous HHs all day long.

We continued to get more texts and calls and even a DOOR rep last night (bearing in mind we're in the middle of a lockdown!).

I continued to do some research on the subject and HH in general. From most of my searches it was suggested that HH typically request 20-40%. So I can't understand why all the HHs that contacted us quoted 2~3%.

Additionally, as we had a good idea of the family tree to the deceased we could "roughly" work out what the inheritance could be (from my research it seems that the estate would be spilt at each branch of the tree). My wife would be a beneficiary as both her father and granddad have passed away.

2-3% of this "value" doesn't seem really worth the hassle for all these HHs to be bombarding us with calls and sending reps. Or are we missing something obvious?

Also, if I understand correctly (based on the following) that if we just sit back and not sign-on with any HH my wife would still be entitled to her share (without losing 2~3% to a HH).

Once a claim is accepted BVD does not need claims from other relatives as any claim they may have is protected by law and should be made to whoever administers the estate as it is their legal duty to deal with the estate appropriately and to distribute it to all those who are entitled

What we're not sure on is, what happens if some of the other beneficiaries do sign-on? Is the commission taken from "only" their share, or from the initial estate value?
 

Solomon Grundy

Distinguished Member
What is stopping you from claiming directly now that you know about the possible inheritance?
 

Sad099

Well-known Member
Hi - I think their commission is taken on the total estate value - irrespective of how its distributed, but as above if no one has signed i'd follow up directly now you are aware of it
 

baker

Well-known Member
My (limited) understanding is that currently as there is no Will, there is no "Administor" of the estate - this is the person that would be responsible for instructing a solicitor, selling property, selling shares, closing bank accounts etc. I think this would/should normally be the closest inline to the deceased.

However, I've read/googled that a HH can take on this role - which just seems like a massive conflict of interest (i.e. for their own commercial gain).
 

WozzaB

Well-known Member
There was no Will when my nan sadly passed away, she had 2 kids, my dad and his sister, and my dad was no longer with us, so the estate got split between myself and my aunt. She initially got a solicitor to sort it out and had the cheek to tell me that I might not be entitled to anything!

So I went to a solicitor that I used for a previous matter and he contacted the other party and advised that as nobody had been appointed Administrator so far, then I would be given the task.

I then divided up what funds were immediately available, sold the house and then split everything 50/50 via the solicitors.

So when I went through this, maybe 6 years ago now, I was able to be the Administrator, so I can't see a need for a company charging to take on this role.
 

IronGiant

Moderator
What we're not sure on is, what happens if some of the other beneficiaries do sign-on? Is the commission taken from "only" their share, or from the initial estate value?
On the BBC show, different HHs often syphon up different family members, so I would imagine their percentage claim would only come from the share of those they directly sign up.
 

baker

Well-known Member
So I went to a solicitor that I used for a previous matter and he contacted the other party and advised that as nobody had been appointed Administrator so far, then I would be given the task.

So when I went through this, maybe 6 years ago now, I was able to be the Administrator, so I can't see a need for a company charging to take on this role.

I think as the estate went on to the public record the HHs use this as a chance to circle like vultures and pressure people into signing-up to something without realising. Like I mentioned above, we were bombarded with calls, texts, door knockers all within hours of this going live on the .GOV website.

It seems that Heir Hunting is an unregulated business, so they try to wiggle their way into this for commercial gain.

There are believed to be 12 beneficiaries, so no doubt the HH have tried to get in contact with all of them. So it just needs 1 of the 12 to step forward to become the administrator... or inadvertently sign-up to a HH.
 
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WozzaB

Well-known Member
I think as the estate went on to the public record the HHs use this as a chance to circle like vultures and pressure people into signing-up to something without realising. Like I mentioned above, we were bombarded with calls, texts, door knockers all within hours of this going live on the .GOV website.

It seems that Heir Hunting is an unregulated business, so they try to wiggle their way into this for commercial gain.

Their are believed to be 12 beneficiaries, so no doubt the HH have tried to get in contact with all of them. So i just needs 1 of the 12 to step forward to become the administrator... or inadvertently sign-up to a HH.
I guess it's probable that one of the 12 might take the bait! I might be getting the process wrong, but 12 beneficiaries seems like a lot? It was down the blood line in my scenario, so as my dad had sadly passed, it stepped down to me and not my mum for example.
I suppose it depends on the value of the estate whether it's worth getting legal advice, it was in my case as there was a house involved.
 

brunation

Well-known Member
So i just needs 1 of the 12 to step forward to become the administrator... or inadvertently sign-up to a HH.
That doesn't guarantee the HH becomes an administrator - you could contest it.
 

SteveCritten

Distinguished Member
I have a friend who acted for a deceased relative and because there are 36 beneficiaries most in America plus the estate/house was 250 miles away he has found it a nightmare to administer but now he has done it he says he would do it again as he now knows the process.
 

baker

Well-known Member
On the BBC show, different HHs often syphon up different family members, so I would imagine their percentage claim would only come from the share of those they directly sign up.

I plan to have a look on iPlayer to watch some past episodes for information/research purposes.

I'm leaning on the side of not to do anything - and just let it all pan out. My wife is such a distant relative in the tree, taking on the role administrator doesn't seem worthwhile. It was even mentioned that as the house has not yet been cleared out, a Will could still possibly turn up...

My suggestion to the wife at the moment is that she just waits to see if any other family members (Aunts/Uncles) get in contact with either her or her sisters.
 

baker

Well-known Member
I might be getting the process wrong, but 12 beneficiaries seems like a lot?

In our instance, it's believed the deceased had no children and spouse passed away earlier in the year. So it would then next go to the Parents (which are also deceased), so then goes to siblings - of which there are 2. So this is where it splits to include my wife's blood line - with my wife's Granddad (who had 5 children). So this is where the number of beneficiaries can soon add up.
 

WozzaB

Well-known Member
In our instance, it's believed the deceased had no children and spouse passed away earlier in the year. So it would then next go to the Parents (which are also deceased), so then goes to siblings - of which there are 2. So this is where it splits to include my wife's blood line - with my wife's Granddad (who had 5 children). So this is where the number of beneficiaries can soon add up.
Yeah just after I posted I could easily see how quickly it can add up!
 

IronGiant

Moderator
Just for your information, from the fraser and fraser website:

CAN I PUT FORWARD A CLAIM MYSELF?
It is legally acceptable for you to carry out the research yourself and put forward your own claim to the deceased’s estates, but it is not always straight forward. As well as proving your own link to the estate, a substantial amount of research is required to demonstrate that you are entitled to a share of the estate.
It is a criminal offence for anyone to distribute an estate differently from the relevant laws.
 

baker

Well-known Member
Just for your information, from the fraser and fraser website:

CAN I PUT FORWARD A CLAIM MYSELF?
It is legally acceptable for you to carry out the research yourself and put forward your own claim to the deceased’s estates, but it is not always straight forward. As well as proving your own link to the estate, a substantial amount of research is required to demonstrate that you are entitled to a share of the estate.
It is a criminal offence for anyone to distribute an estate differently from the relevant laws.

So this is where my limited knowledge gets fuzzy... surely once a bloodline has been established/linked to the deceased/estate (so it just needs 1 of the 12 beneficiaries to be linked) - the probate/solicitor is legally required to distribute to all those entitled. As from that 1 person the family tree can be established through birth/death/marriage records.

I understand that we can submit our evidence to the 'administrator' ourselves - although currently there is no administrator.
 

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