Probate genealogy

What is probate genealogy?

In England and Wales there are often problems settling the estate of a deceased person. On many occasions a will has not been made (in other words, the person has died intestate), and it is necessary to try and find living relatives that may have a claim on the estate. At other times the person may have left a will, but it can be difficult tracking down the beneficiaries. This is where the probate genealogist comes in; Genus Ancestral Research has the skills and knowledge to trace the rightful beneficiaries of a person who has died.

Don’t solicitors deal with probate matters?

Sometimes solicitors employ probate genealogists to find potential beneficiaries. However, many do not, simply putting a notice in the local press giving brief details of a deceased person, and asking for ‘persons having a claim against or interest in the estate’ to come forward. These notices are often only circulated in the area where the deceased person lived, and as modern families are often spread out across the country or even overseas, there may be little success with this approach. Genealogists such as Genus Ancestral Research have the skills and knowhow to quickly build up a family tree, and find which living relatives are eligible to claim a share in the estate under the Administration of Estates Act 1925.

What happens to the estate if no living relatives come forward to claim it?

If a person has died without leaving a will and no beneficiaries can be found then the entire estate, including any property, savings or other investments will be passed to the Crown. However, probate genealogists will try and find entitled relatives and put in a claim on their behalf.

Why have you contacted me?

If you have been contacted by Genus Ancestral Research, we will explain that we think you may be a beneficiary of someone who has died without leaving a will. At this stage we will not know the value of the estate, as to prevent fraudulent claims this information is not divulged by the Treasury Solicitor until they are satisfied that the claim is legal. It is also likely that you will not be the sole beneficiary, it may be necessary to share the estate between several relatives.

Genus Ancestral Research will also have enclosed a ‘Letter of Agreement’ for you to sign if you wish us to put in a claim on your behalf. At this stage you will also not know the name of the deceased person; once all the potential beneficiaries have been contacted, and you have signed the agreement, we will be able to provide you with details of the person who has died. This may be a relative with whom you have no knowledge, or whom you remember only vaguely. In other cases it may be a close relation with whom you have lost contact in recent years.

If your claim is successful, Genus Ancestral Research will receive a small percentage of your share of the estate. However, if the claim is unsuccessful, you will owe Genus Ancestral Research nothing for the research time and expenses which have been spent on your case. At no time will you be asked for any money directly, the only payment we receive is a pre-agreed share of the estate.

You may very well be suspicious of a telephone call, email or letter telling you that you may be entitled to a share in an intestate estate. You are of course free to seek legal advice before signing the agreement.

If you wish to contact either Ms Sandra Worth or Mr Tim Clark, partners at Robinsons Solicitors in Canterbury, they will be happy to reassure you that Genus Ancestral Research is a reputable company. Please see their website at robinsonssolicitors.com

What information do you need to put in a claim?

It will be necessary to draw up a family tree, showing the relatives entitled to share in an intestate estate, and to obtain relevant General Registration certificates, information from electoral rolls, census returns and other sources to prove the claim is genuine. You may have photographs, letters or other records which will also help to establish your link with the deceased person.

Once the claim has been accepted by the Treasury Solicitors, the case will be referred to Robinsons Solicitors. They are a firm of solicitors in Canterbury with whom we work closely. They have the expertise to deal with probate matters of this nature in an efficient and professional manner, ensuring that you are kept fully informed as the matter progresses. To find out more about Robinsons solicitors, see their website at robinsonssolicitors.com

I am interested in finding out more about my family tree, can you provide me with details?

Once the research is completed, Genus Ancestral Research will be happy to provide you with a copy of the family tree, at no charge to you. If you wish to contact other family members we are also happy to pass on letters to them, again at no charge. However, we will not pass on any of your details to a third party without your consent.


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