Australia, America, Spain, Thailand – these are all top locations for Brits to immigrate to, spreading generations of families around the globe as they pack up and leave home for a change of scenery and a life full of adventure. Searching for branches of families dotted around the world, as international probate researchers, Fraser and Fraser are able to help the Legal and the Public Sectors trace down beneficiaries living in other countries.

The family split by the Atlantic

The case of Jenny Simpson* took the search across the pond to Canada in the hope to discover the rightful heirs to an estate worth over £700,000. Jenny was born in 1925 in Dorset and was an only child to her parents – Samantha Thomson* and Jordan Simpson*. Samantha was 26 when she married Jordan in their local Parish church – at 15 years her senior, they soon moved to London so Jordan could find work as a maintenance engineer.

Jenny had a successful life and was careful with her money, watching the pennies and investing in property after buying a house in South West London – it’s clear the pounds then looked after themselves as she had almost £50,000 in cash stowed away in the bank. Single for most of her life and never having children, she remained close to her mother until she died in 1985, with Jenny by her side, passing away in the family home. Jenny stayed living at the same address until she died 27 years later in 2012, aged 86.

What a will search can discover

 After Fraser and Fraser conducted a thorough will search for Jenny, they discovered she had left a will in 1967 where she had requested her entire estate to be left to her mother, meaning the estate was still treated as intestate. As one of the many services Fraser and Fraser offer, a comprehensive will search can help you save time and money when searching for beneficiaries. Had Jenny left a will where the entitled heirs were still alive, it may have named entirely different beneficiaries to the ones that Fraser and Fraser discovered.

It wasn’t long before the firm then found the paternal side of Jenny’s family to be a dead end as they had all predeceased and had left no children behind. Because of this, any heirs found would have to come from the maternal side.

From Dorset to Ontario

 The team learnt that Jenny’s mother, Samantha, had three siblings. They too had already predeceased, meaning their six children would be entitled to a share of her estate. One cousin, Tom*, had sadly died at only three weeks old, and another, Emily*, had passed away 20 years before Jenny. The remaining four lived in Ontario, Canada, after their father, Ben* had emigrated there in 1924. This branch of Jenny’s family had never heard of her and knew nothing of that side of the family, as they had lost touch in the 1920s.

Jenny also had a first cousin once removed still living in Dorset. She was entitled because her mother, Emily, who was Jenny’s cousin, had already passed away. As the only five surviving relatives of Jenny, they were entitled to split the £700,000 estate between them.

Missing Beneficiary Insurance

 Before the estate could be distributed, Jenny’s first cousins were offered Missing Beneficiary and Missing Will Insurance. This is another service which Fraser and Fraser provide – the firm are authorised agents for insurance companies Aviva, Zurich and Isis. Offered as a comfort policy, it protects the distribution against a claim being made at a later state.

International probate genealogists

 Fraser and Fraser has a worldwide network of overseas researchers to hand alongside our European offices in France, Italy, Poland and Scandinavia. Because of this, language barriers are not an issue, researchers are familiar with the systems and understand the laws of the jurisdiction making the process quick and efficient.

As time moves on, it becomes more and more common for Fraser and Fraser’s work to travel overseas, with beneficiaries often thousands of miles apart. Although most of our work is conducted from our UK offices, with our headquarters in London, we also have international researchers in other countries. With members of the team from around the world, the team can tackle international cases to ensure the estate goes to the rightful heirs.

* Names have been changed for privacy reasons.