Yesterday, I hope I managed to unpick some myths about probate research, or ‘Heir Hunting’. It’s a funny old business…. Someone dies and the world and his wife scramble to get to the family to tell them that they may benefit from the estate. The TV series shows researchers driving around the country, determined to ‘get there first’ and sign the heirs. Really? Is that the way we should respond to people who have lost members of their family?
Yes, OK, this is a ‘business’. So, how do potential beneficiaries decide which company to sign with? Well, the answer to that question came from a client yesterday and was completely unsolicited. He said, ‘I am signing with you because you treat me like a person, not like a robot.’ We pride ourselves on the personal touch and our network of thousands of associates across the globe ensures that we deliver a first class service to our clients from Cambodia to Canada, California to Christchurch (New Zealand).
I have asked a few potential clients recently which other companies have contacted them and what percentage commission they have been offered. Some people (frequently, the older generation) have been bamboozled into thinking that they are getting a good deal from companies offering 9% or 10% (plus VAT). Well, do the Maths…. (or Math, if you are American). That’s 29 or 30%…. You can take a wild punt that our commission is nowhere near that, eh!
The frequent issue for potential beneficiaries is that they receive a letter – out of the blue – in the post (mail) and think that particular company is the only option. Guess what folks? There are lots of companies out there and I wish I could advise you as to which ones to choose and which to avoid (but I can’t, as I would certainly land myself in hot water if I did!). However, a few checks would be advisable:
1. Is the company registered with Companies House?
2. Are they current members of the Heir Hunters Association?
3. Is the company registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office?
4. Can you contact the company on a land line telephone number?
If the answer to any of those four questions is ‘No’, my advice would be ‘don’t touch them with a barge pole‘.
[N.B. We are looking to expand the FWL research team…. only applications from candidates who uphold the strong ethical values of FWL will be considered.]