MG Legal Solicitors 
Longridge: 01772 783314 Garstang: 01995 602129 Lancaster: 01524 581306 Lytham: 01253 202452  
A tree drawing, covered with photograph frames, representing a "family tree"; our Probate Solicitors in Lancaster discuss genealogy companies in Probate.
Fortunately, most estates that Probate Solicitors in Lancaster come across, the person who has died either leaves a Will, an important legal document setting out who should deal with your estate and who should benefit from your estate after your death, or they are survived by immediate family members, who are easily identifiable as being entitled under the Rules of Intestacy
 
However, in cases where a person dies with neither of the above, it becomes important to ensure that the correct people who are entitled do indeed receive what they are entitled to. We often deal with this issue by instructing a Genealogy company, also referred to as Heir Hunters, to ensure we trace all living and entitled people. 
a pen and blank notepad, on the table, next to a teacup and saucer with coffee in; our Probate Solicitors in Preston can be contacted by completing the form over.

Contact our Probate Solicitors in Lancaster 

When are Genealogy Companies used in Estates and Probate? 

In situations where a person has died and there is no Will or immediate family, often the hospital, or care home, will pass the details onto a genealogy company, who will be asked to put together a brief family tree, providing a suggestion into who is entitled to both benefit from and administer the deceased’s estate. 
 
Normally, the company will find the person or people entitled, and contact them, outlining that they are entitled under the Rules of Intestacy to the deceased’s estate- or even a share of- and explain whether they are someone who can also apply to deal with the estate with Letters of Administration
 
Alternatively, our Probate Solicitors in Lancaster often employ the services of a Genealogy company to trace missing beneficiaries, or confirm that the details we have are correct as a full family tree, meaning no beneficiaries are accidentally missed off. 

If I am contacted by a Heir Hunter, do I need to sign their agreement? 

Another common question we receive is whether, when contacted by Heir Hunters, you have to sign any agreement they send to you. The short answer is, providing you have not previously agreed to their terms, you will not have to sign up with the Heir Hunters and agree to pay their fee. Instead, if you are entitled to apply to administer the estate, you can instruct expert Probate Solicitors to do so on your behalf, or deal with the estate yourself. 

How much do Genealogy Companies Charge? 

This question is broad because it can depend on many factors, such as what work the company has had to conduct, who they are instructed by, and what the remit of their work is. Some companies offer fixed fees, if for example a known beneficiary is asking them to undertake a family tree reconstruction to confirm the living relatives, whilst other work is often charged on a percentage of the estate’s value, for example, when the company is required to trace an unknown number of beneficiaries who could be all over the World. 
 
In the experience of our Probate Solicitors in Lancaster, who have worked alongside Genealogy companies in many circumstances, we have used the following fee structures: 
 
 
On more than one occasion, we have been contacted by beneficiaries entitled under the rules of intestacy, who have received correspondence from a Heir Hunter confirming they are entitled to benefit from a deceased person’s estate. In these cases, we have taken on the estate administration work, and the beneficiary has not entered into a specific percentage fee agreement with the company. 
 
However, we often then agree a fee with the company to buy their research for a fixed cost, which means the company is paid for the work they have carried out, whilst reducing the cost to the estate quite significantly. 
 
 
On other occasions, we have been contacted directly by a person who knows their relative has died, but has been unsure of who is due to inherit from the estate. We have agreed with them that the best way to proceed is to ask a Genealogy company to construct a family tree, tracing the unknown beneficiaries, and providing us with their details, so we can ensure that all people who are entitled to benefit are contacted. 
 
In these cases, in our experience, the Genealogy company usually offers a fixed fee, an hourly rate, or will agree to directly enter into agreements with the beneficiaries as to the fee they receive. These funds are deducted from the share due to the beneficiary directly, before any money is paid to them, reducing the cost to the beneficiaries who already knew of their entitlement. 
 
 
Another example of when a Genealogy company has been useful is when we are aware of the family tree but have no proof of the status of the people therein. For example, Mr Smith visits us and confirms he is entitled under the Rules of Intestacy, as he knows he is the only living relative of his half-uncle. However, Mr Smith has no proof of his half-uncle’s other relatives having died. Even though he might know this to the case, to protect him from claims from unknown beneficiaries, a Genealogy company can help collate all the evidence required, and, provide peace of mind to Mr Smith that he can proceed to collect the estate, without chance of a claim from an unknown beneficiary. 
 
Again, in this case, it would often be agreed that the company would undertake any work on a fixed-fee basis, meaning our client is aware of the charges and can factor these into the fees to be paid from the estate before distribution. 
 
Although the fees charged by these companies can often be fixed, in some cases, our clients have come to see us because the companies are offering to assist for a fixed-fee charge of say 15% of the estate value. Our Probate Solicitors in Lancaster would explain that our legal fees for dealing with the whole administration of an estate typically range from a very reasonable 1- 1.5% of an estate’s value; often being fixed at the lower end of the estimate by agreement with the executors or administrations of the estate. In estates where the value is £500,000, this could be the difference between paying £75,000 in costs and £5,000 to £7,500 in costs. When you instruct the experts at MG Legal, not only are our solicitors amazing at estate administration, but our fees are a whole lot cheaper, too. 
 
Our team would also add that often these companies do not assist with the legal work but charge instead a ‘finder’s fee’ for notifying you of your entitlement to the estate, and passing your details to a partner solicitor who will separately charge for the administration. 

How do I instruct a Genealogy Company? 

If you require a family tree reconstruction as part of an estate, our Probate Solicitors in Lancaster can assist with arranging this service as part of the estate administration process. In cases where these are recommended, our solicitors will discuss the reasons why these are useful, and what protection having one carried out offers you. Where beneficiaries are missing or cannot be traced, such company can help to find them or offer insurance that can be obtained to cover the missing beneficiaries. Our Probate Solicitors will guide you on this, and help you reach a decision about how to proceed. 
 
To instruct our Probate Solicitors in Lancaster with the administration of an estate, contact 01524 581 306 or email wills@mglegal.co.uk to speak with MG Legal’s team within one working hour about your matter. Naomi and Hope deal with all our Probate matters, and are on hand to chat about your requirements, and the fees involved for us to assist. 
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