Frequently asked questions for beneficiaries

Why have I been contacted?
One of our roles at Tracing Direct is to locate missing heirs to estates where an individual has passed away without leaving a will and the next of kin is unknown. If we have contacted you, it is because our research suggests you may be related to this person and could be an entitled beneficiary. You will initially receive a letter or telephone call from our team giving you details of the case and to confirm certain family details. We may also contact you if we believe you can assist with our research on a particular case.
Can I be certain this is genuine?
We understand some beneficiaries might be sceptical at being contacted, particularly if they do not know the deceased. You can be reassured by the fact that at no time will we ask for any payment. The team at Tracing Direct is made up of established probate researchers and our company registration number - 06123256 - can be verified at Companies House. We are also licensed with the Data Protection Register.
Who is an entitled beneficiary?
Intestacy laws in England and Wales will accept the claims of a deceased’s spouse, children, grandchildren and other blood relatives, extending to first cousins or their descendants. A legally adopted child also has full rights of inheritance from the family he or she is adopted into. The adoption process ends any right the adopted child has to inherit from the biological family.
What happens next?
Once we are certain of our research, Tracing Direct will send an information pack to each beneficiary we believe to be entitled to a share of the estate. Alternatively, we may arrange for a member of our field staff to visit the beneficiaries. The information pack includes details as to why you have been contacted and also a letter of agreement that you will be represented by Tracing Direct for the duration of the case. When this agreement is completed by at least one beneficiary, we take the necessary steps to prove the entitlement and make a formal claim to the Treasury Solicitor.
How long does the process take?
We cannot give you an exact time as each case is different. Normally we would expect the administration to be completed within nine to eighteen months, depending on the complexity of the case. During the administration of an estate, a solicitor may deal with the sale of any property or assets and this needs to be factored into the timescale.
Appointing a solicitor and administrator
Tracing Direct works alongside a dedicated firm of probate solicitors, who hold extensive knowledge of intestate cases. Beneficiaries can be assured their claim will be handled efficiently and at no cost to themselves as legal fees are settled directly from the estate. During the process, a beneficiary will be appointed as administrator. The role will involve making decisions about the estate with the guidance of the solicitor. Beneficiaries are also entitled to instruct their own solicitor. However, we would advise that whoever is appointed works for a law firm with a probate department experienced in intestate estates.
What is the value of the estate?
Cases advertised by the Treasury Solicitor have a minimum value of £500. When a formal claim has been accepted, the appointed administrating solicitor will be able to establish the value of the estate. A definitive figure is confirmed near completion of the case.
How much will I receive?
Each case is unique and your entitlement depends on a combination of factors, which include the net value, number of beneficiaries and your position on the family tree.
Is Value Added Tax (VAT) charged?
Nearly all probate research companies in the UK will charge VAT, together with a commission fee for their work. You should be aware that the VAT is calculated on the commission we receive and not on your gross entitlement. For example, if you were to receive £1,000 from an estate and our commission rate was 10 percent, the VAT would be calculated on our £100 commission i.e. £20. Beneficiaries residing outside the European Union are exempt from VAT.
Am I liable for any costs?
No. Tracing Direct undertakes all cases at its own expense and uses its considerable in-house resources to research and locate beneficiaries. Should the estate prove to be insolvent then we do not receive any payment for our time and effort. Beneficiaries can also be assured that they will not be held personally liable for any outstanding debts relating to an intestate estate.
What does Tracing Direct receive?
We receive a commission from the entitlement of the beneficiaries that we represent. This commission is based on the volume of research. Tracing Direct considers each case on its own merits and believes in offering an extremely competitive service within the industry. The rate of commission is always included in our correspondence and there are never any additional costs to you.
Will your commission exceed my entitlement?
No. Our charges are based on a percentage and cannot equate to more than you will receive.
Have you been contacted by another company?
Details of intestate cases are periodically released by the Treasury Solicitor and a number of companies may research an estate and try to locate beneficiaries at the same time. At Tracing Direct, we pride ourselves on offering fair and competitive rates in an unregulated industry. Our team of genealogists and probate researchers will handle your case efficiently and confidentially. We will be here to provide expert advice and guidance throughout your entitlement claim in a friendly and approachable manner.
Do all beneficiaries need to sign with the same company?
No. Each heir is entitled to choose who they wish to represent them. Although we do advise that beneficiaries use an established company, like Tracing Direct, with a proven track record in handling intestate estates.
Can I make my own claim?
It is possible, but not something we would advise. For a claim to be successful it needs to be proven that your entitlement is genuine. This may require in-depth research into close and distant relatives on both sides of the family and supported by birth, marriage and death certificates. Should the estate subsequently be in solvent or of little value, the cost of this outlay would be yours. Whereas Tracing Direct covers the cost of all research and certificates necessary to make a successful claim on your behalf, no matter what the result is.
Are my personal details secure?
Yes. Due to the sensitive nature of our work, Tracing Direct strictly adheres to the Data Protection Act and is licensed with the Data Protection Register. We do not pass information on to third parties. Beneficiaries can also be assured that details will not be revealed to other family members, except where you have expressed a wish for us to do so. We appreciate that in certain circumstances family members would like to be reunited with relatives they have lost contact with. We are happy to arrange this.
Can I have a family tree once the work is finished?
We are able to provide you with an outline of your family tree at no cost.
Will I have access to personal possessions belonging to the deceased?
Assets, such as property and land, are normally sold at market value at the time that the estate is under administration. Smaller items, such as photographs and heir looms, are not usually kept except in certain circumstances. We are aware that being informed of the passing of a family member can be a distressing experience. Our research can sometimes confirm the circumstances and locate the final resting place.