How long is a piece of string?

18 December 2014

…. well, it’s a frequently used phrase, as so many people ask such odd questions! Like, how much does it cost to trace my family history? Or, how long will it take to track him down? Or, how much is the intestate estate worth?

We usually come back with a few questions rather than plumping straight for the string connection but seriously….? How much does it cost to trace your family history….?

Well, how many generations would you like to go back? Do you want all the birth, marriage and death certificates for each person on the main trunk of the tree, or are you happy with just the quarter and year the event was registered in (for England and Wales)? Do you want all the census documentation we can find? Do you want to go back as far as parish registers? Where were your family living in the 1700-1800s? The list of questions is endless….

How long will it take to track someone down? How do we know…. until we try! If the person you are trying to find owes you money or has done something ‘wrong’, they will be creative at covering their tracks. That doesn’t mean we can’t find them but how can we even estimate how long finding them will take, until we get started?

And, ‘how much money are we talking about?‘ is the most frequently asked question when we contact potential beneficiaries in intestate cases. We don’t know…. If we did, we would all (surely) just pick the larger value cases!? That information is not disclosed until a fully documented claim has been submitted and accepted by the Treasury. ‘How long will it take to receive my share?‘ …. well that all depends on so many variables that aren’t influenced by us, that we could not possibly estimate it!

So, before you ask someone a question – no matter what trade or profession – consider whether it is likely to be possible for them to sensibly answer it!

[Don’t forget to keep an eye out over the course of December for the hidden message in the titles of FWL blogs…. When you think you know, email us so as not to spoil it for others!]

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