5 Things to Do If You Are Contacted By An Heir Hunter

When a distant relative dies intestate there is always the chance that you might have a claim to all or part of the estate. In such cases, a company that offers the services of probate researchers might contact you to help you claim your share. However, there are some risks to consider before agreeing to the services of an heir-hunting company. A company that contacts you out of the blue may not be trustworthy, and even those that are genuine may charge exorbitant fees for their services.

Here are five things to consider if you are contacted by an heir hunter.

Are they legitimate?

The first thing to check if you are contacted by heir hunters is to confirm that they are a genuine and well established company. Check sources online such as the UK’s Data Protection Register to find out if the company is legitimate or not. Online reviews, official websites and other sources are useful in determining if you can trust the company and their services.

Our own Joe Lander discusses the potential issues we’re faced with when contacting people out of the blue, especially when we’re bombarded with ‘too go to be true’ offers. But we truly understand why people are wary and we fully respect why people are wary.

How much do they charge?

Even if the company is legitimate, they will charge a fee for their services, usually based on a percentage of the overall amount of your share of the estate. This can range from anywhere between 15% plus VAT to 40%. Depending on the value of the inheritance, you may wish to contact the Treasury Solicitor or the administrator of the estate yourself and cut the middlemen out.

Ask questions

To further gauge whether the company is reputable, be prepared to ask the person who contacted you several questions. For example, ask how much the estate is worth, how many beneficiaries there are in addition to you, and whether the fee is fixed or time-based. The more questions the contact can answer satisfactorily, the more likely it is that you can rely on their services.

Check the unclaimed estates list

All unclaimed estates in England and Wales are made available online to the public and have been since 1997. You can view the unclaimed estates list on the government website. To make sure that the distant relative in question is genuine, look them up yourself and see if their name matches any on the list. With this information, you may be able to do your own research and make a claim yourself.

Be aware of anti-competitive practices

The heir hunter industry is not regulated, and some companies use devious tactics to lure people to pay into paying for their services. In some cases, they may even exploit relationships with local authorities to create an air of legitimacy. A number of fairness campaigns are designed to protect the public from being targeted by these unscrupulous companies, and it is a good idea to research these campaigns to protect yourself further.

Anglia Research Services

At Anglia Research, our helpful team prides itself on always delivering a reliable and individualised service to all beneficiaries. So don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today if you need assistance

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