In light of these challenges, a “heir hunter” industry emerged and unfortunately, this has created an area where consumers and families could be targeted through dubious practices.
Philip Turvey, an executive director at Anglia Research, warned this could be a much more prevalent issue than many may expect.
He said: “The TV series Heir Hunters sensationalised the probate genealogy sector and, due to the lack of barriers to entry, this led to an exponential rise in the number of unethical, unqualified firms who have no qualms in engaging in underhand tactics at the expense of beneficiaries.
“Some unethical heir hunters use these types of written contracts to only identify easy to find heirs to an estate, collect their fee and forgo the rest of the beneficiaries – potentially resulting years of legal battles for some to get the inheritance they are owed.
“Other unethical heir hunters also use pressure-selling tactics, such as emotional manipulation or pushing a beneficiary to sign a fee agreement by falsely telling them there is a deadline.”
Fortunately, Philip went on to break down how families can check if a claim from an heir hunter is legit and how unethical practices could be identified.
Virgin Money offers 2% interest rate account & ‘free’ gift worth £140 [DEAL]
Santander: You may get compensation as bank apologises for ‘issue’ [INSIGHT]
Inheritance tax UK: ‘The job is only half done’ through Wills [EXPERT]
How beneficiaries can check if a claim from an heir hunter is legit
There are a number of basic actions families can take to ensure legitimacy, as Philip explained: “Probate genealogy firms usually get in touch via a letter, phone call or email, but just because they have your contact information, it doesn’t mean they are legit.
“Beneficiaries should do some initial research of their own into the probate genealogy firm before committing.
“For example, they could check to see if the firm is registered at Companies House which will show how long the company has been trading for. Independent online reviews, such as those provided by Google, are also worth reading to learn about the experience of others.
“Beneficiaries should also check the firm’s website and search for any valid and applicable accreditations.
“Any probate genealogist or heir hunter telling you differently, and requesting direct payment before this stage should not be trusted.
“Consumers need to remember this when dealing with a probate genealogist and check their rights before signing on the dotted line.”
Impartial guidance on inheritance, probate and Will rules can be sought from the likes of the Money Advice Service and Citizens Advice.
This post originally appeared on Daily Express :: Finance Feed