To find out more about us, click on the questions below. Please don't hesitate to contact us directly if there is anything else you would like to know.
Why have you contacted me?
We contact people when, as a result of our research, we believe that they may be entitled to inherit from the estate of a deceased relative who died without leaving a will.
Alternatively, we may contact you to enquire about a family member, neighbour or friend whom we want to trace – again, because they may be entitled to inherit from an estate.
Are there any other reasons why you might contact me?
Yes. We regularly act for solicitors and executors who are trying to find missing heirs who have been named in a will. We act for insurance companies and banks in a similar way, and many other authorities, both in the UK and abroad.
Do you ever pretend to be acting with authorisation when you don’t have it?
Definitely not. There are probate genealogists and tracing firms who will give the impression that they are solicitors, that they are acting for the government or the probate registry, or that they have been specifically appointed to handle a matter. They may claim that they are in charge of a case, or have a TV contract. All such claims need to be taken with a pinch of salt. If in doubt, you should contact the Citizens Advice consumer service.
Anglia Research is always open and clear about its position and never makes any misrepresentation.
What is probate genealogy? How does it work?
If somebody with no known relatives dies without leaving a will, their assets will eventually pass to the Crown. The authorities make very little attempt to trace relatives, other than to place small advertisements with minimal information in the media. Therefore, there is every likelihood that rightful beneficiaries would never know about their entitlement, but for the speculative involvement of a probate genealogist.
Probate genealogists seek out the relevant advertisements and, acting on their own initiative, try to identify and locate the relatives who are entitled to inherit from the intestacy.
Am I likely to appear on TV against my wishes?
Perhaps, but not with Anglia Research.
Despite numerous approaches, we always decline to take part in the Heir Hunters TV programme. Client confidentiality (not to mention the Data Protection Act) is far more important to us than cheap publicity. Our clients can rest assured that their private family affairs and financial matters stay private.
How do I know that this is a genuine matter?
At Anglia Research we understand that the people we contact might be concerned and apprehensive. They needn’t be. We are registered with, and therefore regulated by, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Our founder and many of our researchers are members of the
Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (AGRA) or its Scottish and Irish equivalents, the Association of Scottish Genealogists and Researchers in Archives (ASGRA) and Accredited Genealogists Ireland (AGI). Our company registration is 5405509 and can be found at Companies House.
Are there other credentials?
There are many organisations that one can join simply by paying a fee, but in the field of probate genealogy the only relevant credentials are registration with the Financial Conduct Authority and Companies House, and membership of AGRA, ASGRA or AGI. To find out more, please see our accreditation page.
There must be an error somewhere. No-one in my family ever had a penny to their name?
We often hear this! However, we might be talking about quite a distant relationship, such as a half-blood cousin four times removed. Hardly anyone knows all their relatives to that extent.
How did you trace me? Are my details safe?
We use information in the public domain and available to anyone. This includes birth, marriage and death indexes, census data and electoral roll records. We also have our own considerable library of genealogical resources, accumulated during the company’s five decades of operation.
You can rest assured that your details will never be passed onto a third party without your permission and that they will only ever be used in the context of the research we are conducting.
Might I be contacted by more than one company?
This sometimes happens in cases of intestacy. The probate genealogy industry is highly competitive and when someone with no known relatives dies without leaving a will, several different companies may try to trace the heirs to the estate. It is important to remember that in these cases, no particular company is appointed to ensure that the unclaimed estate reaches its rightful owners. Each probate research company acts speculatively, on its own initiative.
In that case, do all of the potential heirs have to sign up with the same company?
No. Should a number of heirs (or beneficiaries) sign with different companies it has no affect upon their entitlement other than the fee involved. However, it will always be in your best interest to sign an agreement with Anglia Research. Our staff boast a level of expertise unmatched in the field of probate genealogy, and their determination to uncover the truth means that you will avoid problems and delays at the administration stage.
Equally as important is our commitment to conducting our business with fairness and integrity. Probate genealogy has received a great deal of publicity in the past few years – and the results have not been good: a swarm of inexperienced amateurs has been attracted by what they see as easy pickings. If you have to choose between two competing companies, look at their history, their reputation and their values.
How do I know that the fee stated in your agreement is the only fee I will pay? Are there any hidden costs?
The fees set out in the agreement are the only fees Anglia Research will ever ask you to pay. There are no hidden costs and Anglia Research will never ask you to pay any money from your own pocket. This is our guarantee to you.
How is your fee decided?
We take into account the value of the assets (if known), the complexity of the case, the number of relatives and many other aspects. We avoid London rents and salaries so that our overheads can be kept low, thus ensuring that you receive a high share of your entitlement.
You haven’t told me the name of the deceased. Why?
At our own expense, we have speculatively invested time, effort and money to establish your connection to the deceased person and the unclaimed assets. We propose to pass on this information to you in return for a fee agreement. We would love to give you the information first, but we need to secure our fee by having a signed agreement in place before we can disclose details.
- Can I visit your offices to discuss the matter?
I have signed your agreement, what happens next?
Once we have agreements back from entitled relatives, we submit a claim to the Treasury on behalf of one representative family member. When the claim has been admitted, it is usual for the same relative to become the personal representative (PR). A solicitor is then chosen to work with the PR and deal with the administration of the estate. They undertake the work of gathering in the estate’s assets and paying out its liabilities. Only when this is done can the solicitor calculate how much each beneficiary is due and then make a distribution.
What about the solicitor’s costs?
They are paid out of the estate’s assets before it is distributed.
Are all solicitors' costs and services equal?
Far from it. Some probate research firms direct their clients to expensive solicitors. To help justify high costs, they produce complicated accounts and create unnecessarily complex family trees – all meant to impress. Others, especially newcomers, will use inexperienced solicitors who end up floundering if the case takes an unexpected turn.
At Anglia Research, we ensure that paperwork is easily understood. For estate administration, we can refer you to a panel of good-value experienced solicitors. We also offer our own low-cost, in-house administration service, led by a solicitor with a background in a major law firm.
How long is the process likely to take?
It is impossible to give a detailed timeline of how long the process will take, as every case is different. Although most cases are managed within 6-9 months, there are always exceptions to the rule.
How much am I entitled to?
In many cases we are unaware of the full value of the estate we are researching. As a result, it is not always possible to estimate individual entitlements until our research is complete, all the entitled relatives have been located and the claim has been accepted by the Treasury.
What if I am not entitled after all, or the claim is not successful? Will I still have to pay you?
Absolutely not. Our fee is conditional upon you receiving something from the estate. There is no catch – you will never be asked to pay more than an agreed percentage of your inheritance, so if the claim is unsuccessful and you receive nothing, you will pay us nothing.
Is it possible for your fees to exceed what I receive from the estate?
As our fee is based upon a percentage or proportion of what you are due from the estate, it will always be less than the sum you inherit. To repeat – there is no catch.
How do you get paid?
Our fee is paid by the administrator of the estate when the assets are distributed, so we do not get paid until you receive your inheritance.
What happens to the personal possessions of the deceased?
Sadly, in the vast majority of cases, the personal possessions of the deceased will have been disposed of, or sold to add to the monetary value of the estate. However, in a minority of cases, we are given items, such as old photographs or address books, that can be passed on to the wider family.
I'm very interested in my family history. Can I get a copy of your research?
Certainly. Should you require a copy of the family tree, please speak to your case manager.
I'd like to make contact with long lost/unknown relatives. Can you give me their details?
Anglia Research is compliant with the Data Protection Act. This means that we can’t and won’t pass anybody’s details to a third party without their consent. However, we can ask for permission to pass on details on your behalf. We also offer a free letter-forwarding service for this purpose.