Top Tips If You Are Approached By An Heir Hunter

Heir Hunters

What are Heir Hunters?

In recent times, the media has raised awareness of Heir Hunters, primarily due to television shows highlighting the service they can provide. In short, Heir Hunters are companies that find unclaimed estates and then trace potential beneficiaries with an eye to receiving a share of the inheritance.

If you are approached by such a firm, while it may be very tempting to accept their offer, there are some top tips to consider first. 

Heir Hunters – top tips

  1. Beware pressure tactics

Often Heir Hunters will only provide vague details about the estate and are unlikely to tell you how much you could inherit until you sign a contract. This often involves you paying them a portion of your inheritance for their services – this can be up to 25%. If the company holds information back and pressurises you to sign a contract, this could make your agreement unenforceable. 

  1. Could you do it yourself?

Another reason Heir Hunters often withhold information before the contract is signed is to try and prevent you from looking into the estate yourself. As their fees are likely to amount to a significant sum, it is always worth investigating whether you could locate the estate yourself for much less as this can often be done by an ‘amateur’ at little cost.

  1. How to trace an estate

The first step is to find out who the deceased is and how you are related to them. A list of unclaimed estates with details is available on the Treasury Solicitor’s website and is a good place to start. You could also try to obtain a copy of any Will – Wills are public documents once Probate has been issued.

Bear in mind that the more distant the relative, the more likely that there are other beneficiaries so you are likely to be sharing the inheritance of the estate with them.

  1. Take your time

Estates can remain unclaimed for 30 years after the deceased’s death, so there is unlikely to be a rush to proceed, so be wary of Heir Hunters trying to rush you. After 30 years the estate passes to the Crown and cannot be claimed.

  1. Take legal advice

If you are approached by an Heir Hunter, we would recommend contacting a solicitor who will be able to advise you on the best course of action. If you have signed a contract with an Heir Hunter, it is also worth taking professional advice as there have been successful legal cases against companies who pressurised people into signing contracts.

How can Nelsons help?

For advice on the subjects discussed in this article, please contact a member of our expert Wills, Trusts and Probate team in Derby, Leicester or Nottingham on 0800 024 1976 or via our online form.

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