Category Archives: Probate research

Finders International up for two awards

Finders International, a global probate genealogy company that traces missing heirs to estates, properties and assets, has been shortlisted for the Best Use of Marketing and Social Media and Probate Research Firm of the Year at the British Wills and Probate Awards.

 “Outstanding contributions.”

Karen Babington, the Director of the Practical Vision Network that runs the Today’s Wills and Probate publication, and subsequent founders of the awards, said:

“Demand on professionals working in the [probate] sector during extremely challenging times has never been greater and so it is important that individuals and firms are recognised for their outstanding contributions.”

Finders International hope to be successful at the British Wills and Probate Awards, scheduled to be held on 22 October 2020, to add to their successes; the firm, who have offices in London, Dublin and Edinburgh, have won Best UK Probate Research Firm for two years running at the UK Probate Research Awards

Virtual ceremony

Danny Curran, Managing Director of Finders International, said:

“Everyone at Finders has been working incredibly hard to ensure the highest standards have been maintained during these uncertain times. We are absolutely thrilled to be shortlisted at the British Wills and Probate Awards in not one but two categories!”

The awards, headline sponsored by Arken, will be held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

To find out more about Finders International, you can visit their website. Alternatively, you can find them on their social media channels: please visit their Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and Instagram.


Free Deputy Development Day for Local Authorities


The first Finders International Deputy Development Day for local authorities is to take place next month on Thursday 14th September (9am to 3.30pm) at the Holiday Inn, Regents Park, London.

The theme for the day is how to establish links between the public and private sectors, and speakers will discuss how the two can find ways of working together. The event is open to all local authorities in England and Wales.

One of the issues to be discussed will be changes to welfare benefits, often a source of stress for clients, especially those who rely on disability benefits where the changes to personal independent payments are having a profound effect on some of the most vulnerable members of society.

Tracy Atkinson, the welfare benefits and personal injury trust manager from Frenkel Topping, will be updating delegates on the changes and advising what can be done to assist their clients.

Forensic investigator Paul Smith will be discussing his work that looks into elder abuse, while Alison Taylor from Frenkel Topping will outline the topic of investment for people in later life about funding care.

The myths and mysteries surrounding the Senior Courts Costs Office are also on the agenda for the day. Local authorities often work for fixed fees but can apply for the costs to be assessed if more work is involved – giving them the potential to raise income.

Representatives from the Office of the Public Guardian will be on hand to discuss the new OPG102 online submission system as well as representatives from the Department of Work and Pensions. We have invited representatives from the Court of Protection to attend the open forum in the afternoon.

The day’s agenda also includes a talk on what Finders International can offer public sector clients. We have a proven track record, and we have worked with many councils, hospitals and care homes in cases where someone dies and appears to have no will or known next of kin. We also have the Finders International Funeral Fund, which can be used to help subsidise the costs of public health funerals.

Dave Lockwood, Finders’ newly appointed public sector development manager, said: “This is a chance for colleagues in the public sector to mingle with those in the private sector and discover how both sides can flourish in partnership. We want this day to help our colleagues and support them at a time when they face increased pressures and ever-dwindling resources.”

David has extensive experience in the public sector, having worked in four local authorities in London and the South East, dealing with various services and ongoing legislation changes. He has also acted as a deputy to the Court of Protection and is well-versed in the complexities of dealing with providing funerals under the Public Health Act.

A maximum of three delegates from each local authority can attend, and lunch will be provided, as well as refreshments throughout the day. If you’d like to attend, you can register here.

Delegates who would like to ask a question of the experts in the open forum should submit questions in advance. You can do so by emailing David Lockwood –

Funeral fund launches to help with cost of pauper funerals

finders-funeral-fund-aw-624x624Finders International have launched a major social initiative which should benefit hard pressed local authorities and hospitals.

When a Public Health Act funeral is being planned, usually at the Council or Hospital’s expense, these organisations can now ask Finders International for a subsidy payment towards this cost by applying to their new Funeral Fund.

These will be cases where there genuinely are no known next of kin (rather than next of kin simply refusing to pay) and Finders International will have done the research to confirm this. On receipt of an application for a subsidy, Finders will assess each case on its merits and decide whether or not to grant a payment, which could be to fund the funeral completely or partially.

How will the money for the fund be raised?

When someone passes away with no known next of kin Councils, Hospitals and others can refer these cases to Finders International who will trace next of kin, free of charge to the Council or Hospital or the referring party in all cases. Where there is less than £5,000 in the estate Finders will not seek any payment from anyone. When the estate is over £5,000 they agree a simple commission fee with the next of kin traced whereby Finders receive payment from their net entitlement at the same time as they receive their money.

Finders will transfer some of the commission earned on these cases to our new Funeral Fund and will also raise money through various charitable events and periodically donate to the Fund.

With hundreds of thousands of pounds being spent on Public Health Act funerals every year, Finders hope to make a small difference by giving funds to deserving cases.

A simple application form can be downloaded or completed online and certain terms and conditions will apply of course, but we look forward to helping Councils, Hospitals and others in the future.

Any questions? Please call Finders free on 0800 085 8796 or email

Heir hunter brings integrity and quality to an unregulated industry

A new industry association has recently been launched today for the professional heir hunting industry, with the aim of providing a single authoritative source of opinion and advice.

The International Association of Professional Probate Researchers, Genealogists & Heir Hunters (IAPPR) is the brainchild of Finders International, who featured heavily in the hit BBC1 TV show ‘Heir Hunters’ earlier this year, and are now filming again for a new series.

Daniel Curran, founder member and media consultant of the IAPPR, said:

“I have been searching for a viable international and professional association for my company for years with no success. The IAPPR will achieve worldwide attention and international support without a doubt – and the public and legal profession will stand to benefit enormously.”

There are amateur associations for genealogists, and for those that traditionally trace their family trees, but the IAPPR will support the corporate world of international probate research, that focuses on tracing the missing or unknown beneficiaries to unclaimed estates, assets and funds.

Louise Lewis of Blake Morgan LLP, a leading firm of solicitors, said:

“As a professional, I am regulated by an independent body. Regulation safeguards the public because it ensures that I have to meet a minimum standard of professional conduct and ethics. It provides peace of mind for those dealing with me. Sadly, I have seen what can happen to clients who deal with unregulated service providers and how expensive and distressing it can be when things go wrong. I welcome Finders voluntarily signing up to a Code of Conduct, confirming that they act in accordance with very high standards. It shows a commitment to protecting their clients and to providing a sustained high quality of service.”

More people are dying alone than ever before

Our work at Finders International means we often work to trace the rightful heirs to the estates of those who have died alone and intestate.

Dying alone is an increasing phenomenon, and Bridget Jones put it astutely – voicing a horror of dying alone, only to be found three weeks later half-eaten by an Alsatian.

Sadly, the fictional Bridget’s fear isn’t so “out there” as recent cases proved – Anne Letrim who wasn’t found until six years after her death (neighbours thought she had moved) and Joyce Carol Vincent whose body was found in her bedsit almost three years after her death, surrounded by the Christmas presents she’d been wrapping and with the TV still on.

The charity Dignity in Dying notes that dying alone is British people’s number one fear about death. But changes in society, an ageing population and the way we live mean dying alone is much more likely. At present, nearly half (49 percent) of people aged 75 and over live alone.

In a response to reports that more people in Wales are drying alone than ever before, Age Cymru said they found it incredibly sad that more people than ever were drying with no known next of kin and no-one to make funeral arrangements on their behalf.

Dying intestate is common too – of the 50 million adults living in the UK, 26 million (52 percent) have not written a will.

Here at Finders International, a lot of the time we find that the rightful beneficiaries to estates had no or very little knowledge of their relative and most express deep regret that their relative died in such lonely circumstances.

Our ageing population means there is no easy solution to this modern-day phenomenon, but keeping in touch with relatives and embracing the community spirit by keeping an eye on elderly neighbours is a start.

Finders to feature in 8th series of BBC Heir Hunters

Flame television has been commissioned by the BBC to produce an 8th series of the popular daytime genealogy and social history series Heir Hunters.

For this series the work of four major probate research firms will be covered and for the first time, Finders probate genealogists will feature. Finders is celebrating its 15th anniversary in 2013 and during those fifteen years founder Daniel Curran has seen many changes in the industry. Finders has not previously appeared on Heir Hunters, but Daniel Curran, founder of Finders, felt that “the commitment to show the human and professional side or our work convinced us that taking part was the right thing to do.”

The success of the television programme Heir Hunters has gone hand in hand with the increasing success of heir hunters like Finders in reuniting entitled beneficiaries with their rightful inheritance. This is reflected by a fall of some £15 million in the income the government receives from Bona Vacantia, although the number of cases remains similar year on year.

This latest series of Heir Hunters will reflect many of the changes that Finders UK have seen in the heir hunting business and the fact that since January 2013 there have been some major changes to the world of probate research. One of the most significant changes has been within The Treasury Solicitors’ Bona Vacantia division, the public body that deals with the estates of people who have died with no known relatives. In the past the Bona Vacantia division published a list of unclaimed estates every Thursday, now notification of such estates is published randomly at any time and on any day. The effect of this for heir hunters is that they must be ready to research new cases and trace the beneficiaries as and when they come in.

This faster and more immediate way of working has not only caused changes to the way heir hunters work but also to the way the television series Heir Hunters is made. For series eight Flame TV will be following Finders cases on a daily basis.

Another significant change brought about by the Treasury Solicitor is a decrease in the minimum value of advertised estates. Previously estates were only advertised if they had a minimum value of £5,000 that has now been dropped to £500 which means that although there are more cases listed, many of these will cost more to research than they are worth. This provides a headache for probate genealogists who are increasingly relying on their own detective work to establish whether Bona Vacantia cases are viable and are gathering information from sources such as solicitor referrals, neighbours and good old local knowledge. Finders work in this area will be shown for the first time in series 8 of Heir Hunters which will be aired from January 2014.

Finders have been awarded the ISO 9001:2008 Total Quality Management certification and are the first probate genealogy firm to achieve the international version of this Standard as devised by the IAB (International Accreditation Board). Finders also provide missing beneficiary insurance, which protects trustees and administrators against the event of an unknown beneficiary emerging after an estate, has been distributed. As agents for Aviva they are regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

For further information and advice contact Finders, 6-8 Vestry Street, London N1 7RE 020 7490 4935

Heir hunters

Beware rogue Heir Hunters!

Since the BBC Heir Hunters show began there have been many rogue traders setting up business, usually from home with no professional standing whatsoever. You should avoid becoming involved with any such companies as they probably do not have the ability, funds or knowledge to complete searches they undertake successfully.

Some claim to ‘undercut’ any percentage fee contracts, others claim to be running an ‘association’ on behalf of heir-hunters, but none of these have any quality control, professional standards or qualifications and could leave potential beneficiaries embroiled in years of delay and legal issues, costing far more than they may believe they are ‘saving’ by using such rogue companies. They may charge hidden costs or extras that the true professional would not and their research may leave estates vulnerable to legal claims and court proceedings if they do not complete research to the required standard.

Finders are professional Heir Hunters

  • Finders professional genealogists will match or better any genuine like-for-like commission offer.
  • Finders will offer advice free of charge and will not become involved in any matter that they cannot complete.
  • Finders have been established for 13 years, their MD has over 20 years professional experience
  • Finders employ trained professional in-house staff.
  • Finders is run from a professional office, open every day at regular hours.
  • Finders have numerous accreditations visible on their website.
  • Finders are Data Protection registered.
  • Finders work to their published Professional Conduct Code.
  • Finders have ISO 9001:2008 Total Quality Management Certification.

Finders are a professional probate genealogy company based in London and dedicated to serving Lawyers, Trustees, Executors or Administrators & Personal Representatives who have the responsibility of tracing and finding missing heirs or unknown heirs.

Finders, has agreed to appear in Heir Hunters Series 8, to be shown on the BBC from January 2014.

Trace missing will beneficiaries

Finders International – missing heirs found, and much more …

Finders International was established by Managing Director Daniel Curran in 1997. Nowadays we are more commonly known as ‘Heir Hunters’ following our appearances on the BBC1 TV show of the same name.

Our success is attributed to providing a fresh and dynamic approach to our work and continuing since day one with our commitment to a no-nonsense, fast and friendly service whilst at the same time ensuring that the highest standards are maintained.

We work with anyone who requires help or assistance in tracing missing or unknown heirs, or the next of kin to a deceased person.

We are highly skilled full-time professionals with an excellent reputation and credentials to match. We have a tried and trusted worldwide network and work to our unique Professional Conduct Code.

We hope that your experience of Finders service and standards will be a positive one and look forward to receiving any comments you may have.

Missing Heir Location

Our worldwide heir location is fast, efficient and cost-effective. You will be amazed at the results we can achieve even with only the smallest amount of information to start with.

Whatever situation you are faced with, we are confident we can provide a successful outcome.

You can read also read testimonials & view our credentials.

We apply our proven methodical and diligent approach to each and every case we handle and, coupled with a thorough understanding of the considerable technological and historical sources currently available, successful enquiries can often be guaranteed or no fee is payable.

AVIVA Insurance Products

Finders have a convenient ‘self-approval’ arrangement with Aviva. Once our report is completed we can apply for and obtain policies for your consideration instantly. In many cases a draft policy is forwarded along with our report. In some cases a proposal form may be needed and we will advise where this is the case. Premiums are one-off payments made by the Estate.

Please note that in most cases we can only obtain Missing Beneficiary Indemnity Insurance policies where we have either completed a full report or an independent verification of existing research. However, we may be able to support an application for insurance where it appears that further research is either not required or not financially viable.

We are authorised regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) membership number 310772.

Finders are the longest standing provider of AVIVA online policies. Please note all policies are for UK domicile deceased Estates only.

The purpose of all the insurance policies we provide is to ensure that, once an Estate is distributed, those who have benefitted will never be asked to repay all or part of their inheritance at any time in the future. Finders always recommend the Missing Beneficiary Comfort Policy as a minimum for the security and peace of mind of all Administrators and Executors.

Typically insurance may be required when:

  • Specific heirs or branches of a family simply cannot be traced
  • It is no longer economically viable to continue with research in an attempt to locate the ‘missing’ heirs
  • When all heirs may seemingly have been found and a comfort policy* is required
  • Finders have produced a report confirming the situation and recommending insurance cover
  • Finders Missing Will Search service has been completed and no valid will has been found

Missing Beneficiary Comfort Policy

  • Cover against claims from any prior claimants to an intestacy or additional missing or unknown heirs coming forward after distribution. Highly recommended.

Missing Beneficiary Indemnity Policy

  • Cover against future claims from specific missing heirs or unknown parts of a family tree.

Missing Will Insurance

  • On completion of our Missing Will Service cover against a Will being found after distribution (or a more recent Will than the one used) can be obtained which disinherits the beneficiaries who have already received an inheritance.

Combined Comfort & Missing Will Insurance

  • Cover for all possible eventualities, a Will being found at a later date or prior or additional claimants to an intestacy coming forward after distribution.

Free 5% Escalator Clause

  • You can now select a 5% escalator clause which will automatically increase the Limit of Indemnity by 5% of the original amount at each of the first 10 anniversaries of the policy start date, for no extra charge.

Insurance FAQs

  • Q. How long do policies run for?

There is no time limit on a claim being made or expiry date for the policy.

  • Q. What is a ‘limit of indemnity’?

This is the maximum amount the insurers will pay out in the event of a claim, or multiple claims. It is important therefore to ensure you have set the limit of indemnity at an appropriate amount and we can advise on this if required.

  • Q. What about interest on the amount of a claim if time has passed since the policy was issued?

This can be prepared for in 2 ways. Firstly, and perhaps more simply, a simple calculation of a ‘worst case scenario’ can be made and the limit of indemnity increased to cover for this. Often this will not increase the premium by much, if at all. Secondly, you can request an ‘Escalator Clause’, whereby the insurers will increase the limit of indemnity by a certain % each year for a limited number of years (usually 6 years). This option requires some manual calculation and therefore takes a little more time to obtain and will increase the premium payable. The exact rate of interest and period it is payable for varies from time to time and will be confirmed when an Escalator Clause is requested.

Medallion Signature Guarantees

In order to sell or transfer US or Canadian Securities, you are required to sign a Stock Transfer Form (or its equivalent) and the signature must be “guaranteed” before a transfer agent will accept the transaction. Signature Guarantee programmes are operated by members of the Securities Transfer Agents Medallion Programme (known as STAMP).

The Medallion Signature Guarantee is compulsory when transferring or selling US and Canadian Securities and transactions will not be approved without it. When the STAMP member issues their signature guarantee to a Transfer Form, they assume liability that:

What does the Medallion Signature Guarantee stamp do?

  • The signatory is authorised to sign the Form (be that the registered owner or the Executor to a Grant of Probate).
  • The signatory has capacity.
  • The signature is genuine.

The following documents are required to obtain the Medallion Guarantee:

  • The original signed Form(s) which require the Medallion Guarantee stamp.
  • Certified Copies of the Registered Owner’s passport and a recent utility bill or bank statement (dated within the last three months) for address verification purposes.
  • Certified Copy of the Share Certificate or other documents such as a Dividend or DRS statement, which evidence ownership of the shares.

If the Transfer requirement arises because of probate, you will need:

  • Certified copy of the Grant of Probate.
  • The original signed Form(s) which require the Medallion Guarantee Stamp.
  • Certified Copies of the Executor(s) passport(s), and a recent (dated within the last three months) utility bill or bank statement for address verification purposes

Find missing heirs

We apply our proven methodical and diligent approach to each and every case we handle and, coupled with a thorough understanding of the considerable technological and historical sources currently available, successful enquiries can often be guaranteed or no fee is payable.

Finders have been successfully finding missing heirs and beneficiaries for lawyers for many years. We offer a fast, friendly and cost-effective service. Experienced and professional research and comprehensive, easy to understand reports.

Whether you need to find missing legatees, trace residuary beneficiaries to a Deceased person’s Estate, need to locate owners of unclaimed money or shares, find an heir to a legacy,

Finders can help by identifying and locating all types of missing beneficiaries.

Finders provide Missing Beneficiary Indemnity Insurance Policies quickly and inexpensively as agents of Norwich Union.

We offer immediate, free of charge, no-obligation advice and quotations.

Legal guidance available where there are no known next of kin or where a Bona Vacantia Estate exists. Bona Vacantia claims submitted and all blood relatives and entitled beneficiaries found. Intestate Succession Law guidance and charts available online.

Finders provide free estimates, a choice of fee options; Budget, Contingency Fee, Estate/Trust Agreement Fee or Fixed Fee. All quotations free of charge or obligation.

Obtain a quote or instruct us online or by phone, fax, post or email.

  • Tracing heirs is possible from date of death only, last known address only or minimal information.
  • We offer a QC approved solution when tracing missing heirs or locating missing or unknown beneficiaries.
  • Finders is a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists
  • Registered Expert Witness
  • We offer the reassurance of our Professional Conduct Code
  • Worldwide research undertaken to find missing heirs
  • Full International network – Probate Genealogy worldwide
  • Missing beneficiaries can be found worldwide
  • Full genealogical reports and family trees provided to the legal profession.

Finders are a Carbon Neutral company. Our business operations have zero impact on the environment. Our Environmental Policy details can be seen on our website.