Dealing with Heir Hunters?
If you are contacted by an “Heir Hunter” who says that you that are due for a share in the estate left by a blood relative, the alarm bells may well ring! Sometimes quite rightly. Whether they appear on your doorstep, ring or write, you should at least listen. You wouldn’t want to lose a fortune by slamming down the phone on heir hunters who may well be a hard-working professional trying to help you.
Heir Hunters are by nature persistent, that is how they earn a living. They probably only found you after lengthy and detailed research, so they won’t be too keen on your ignoring their approach. They will generally get paid if they manage to find the right beneficiaries and they accept the inheritance. You might as well give them a few minutes! That said, many people will be approached, but not all of them will benefit as closer relatives are discovered, or mistakes have taken place in the tracing – perhaps two folk with identical names.
Heir hunting is not regulated, though most Heir Hunters follow proper professional standards. Many belong to professional organisations such as the Heir Hunters-Association.
Heir Hunters spend a great deal of time trying to track down beneficiaries. As it is a highly competitive profession as beneficiaries may find that several researchers are looking for them. The beneficiaries they find are expected to pay a commission – usually a percentage of the value of their share of the estate left by their often unknown relative. But only if they inherit, unless they are unethical. But you should always read such agreements with great care.
When you do get to the stage of signing an agreement with Heir Hunters, there is still no guarantee that you will inherit. Nor how much you will inherit, or when. Complex estates often take years to sort out, though most are resolved in a few months. Your share may be one of dozens, or you might win the lottery. One estate of £2 million still remains unclaimed!
Heir Hunters can only bring good news. Maybe it’s best not to accept an offer immediately and sign with the first heir hunter to contact. Others may be close on their heels, so you have nothing to lose by waiting to negotiate a better deal.
Consider negotiating terms with the heir hunters: even if you don’t sign, you may be “found” later. Naturally, there is a danger you may not be found, as other Heir Hunters may not find you, especially if it is not a big estate. Without the efforts of the their research, the case may be closed without you getting anything. However the administrators usually take out insurance in case an unexpected beneficiary later emerges with a valid claim for a share – or indeed the whole estate.
Making an agreement with them means you have little to lose and a lot to gain. But sign the wrong deal and you could find it is unfair and swallows up a small inheritance. On the other hand, a fair and reasonable heir hunter you could become the sole beneficiary to an estate worth millions! Thanks to the efforts of a hard working heir hunter.
For more information, contact www.heirhunters-association.org.uk