Fraser and Fraser have been researching overseas cases for over 40 years. As a result we pride ourselves in being experts in undertaking genealogical research on overseas estates. Our experience is vital in ensuring that the research is completed thoroughly and accurately, with the documentation we obtain meeting the standards required. We also possess the necessary knowledge and expertise to ensure that only the heirs entitled under the estate distribution laws of the host country (or State) are put forward.

Overseas cases take much longer then UK probate cases. The process length varies depending on where the deceased died – for instance, we work on a number of cases from the USA which can take over 24 months to reach distribution. Certain states, such as New York, can also take longer. For a case specific timeline, please contact your Case Manager directly.

The time frame and legal specifics of overseas cases can result in the fee for services being higher. Overseas cases entail a much larger degree of risk as our initial research outlay is far greater than it would be for domestic cases. As with all contingency cases our fee is only deducted at the point of distribution and is only applicable to the amount that is recovered for you.

At no stage will you need to pay any fees upfront. The agreed fee also includes the costs of our attorney and probate genealogy colleagues in the country of origin. If you do not receive anything from the estate neither do Fraser and Fraser, our international colleagues or our attorney. All financial risk is taken by us.


We are informed of the estate

We are referred the case by attorneys or other probate research companies in the host country requesting our specific research expertise.  Fraser and Fraser are able to undertake research all over the world.


The research begins

We begin our search for heirs.  On overseas cases this can include travelling to other countries to undertake local record research.


You are contacted by us

If you receive documentation from us it is often because our research indicates you may be entitled to an unclaimed inheritance.


What you need to do

Send back the signed agreement and questionnaire as soon as you can.  Please contact your Case Manager if you have any questions about the paperwork you have received.


Disclosing the information

Once we have received your agreement we will write to you detailing exactly how and why you are entitled along with an estimated estate value, if the information is available at the time.


Instructing an Attorney

In most overseas cases, especially those from the USA, it is necessary for us to instruct an attorney to act on our behalf.   Our attorney will also be able to represent your interests and this service is included in the fee quoted on the agreement.  Once instructed the attorney will be able to represent our joint interests at the numerous Court Hearings connected with the estate.  The attorney’s knowledge of the local Legal system is vital in ensuring our joint interests are properly represented.  It also means that in most cases the heirs will not have to attend the Hearings in person.


Collating the claim

and gathering documentation

We will now finalise our family tree and ensure that we have obtained all of the necessary proof documents, such as birth, marriage and death certificates, census records and probate records etc.  We will also compile a research report for our attorney to submit to the relevant authority dealing with the estate.


The long wait

Overseas cases especially those from the USA can require a lot of patience from everyone involved.  The Administration will almost always go through the relevant county court within the State that the decedent died.  These courts are subsequently very busy and there can be lengthy wait between hearings.  During these periods we may not have any new information to update you with, at such times your patience and understanding is required.  Please rest assured that your Case Manager will keep you fully updated of all information we receive from the estate as soon as we receive it.



Often there will be questions raised by the Court representatives or opposing attorneys about the family tree.  When this occurs we ensure that we answer these queries as accurately and swiftly as possible to make sure all parties are satisfied and that your interests are protected.


Final accounting and distribution schedule

After what can often seem like an extraordinarily long wait we reach the point of distribution.  Via our attorney and accounts department we will ensure all figures are correct and that each heir will receive the correct portion of the estate.  At this point we will confirm your specific entitlement.


Receiving the funds

Once our attorney receives the funds, we will ask you how you wish to receive your entitlement (a currency exchange may be required). At this point, our fee will be deducted. Once you have informed us of how your desired method of payment of the funds, we will ensure your inheritance gets to you as quickly as possible.


A family tree gift

We are more than happy to send you a free outline family tree.

We kindly ask that any requests are made at the end of the process to guarantee you receive the most accurate version of the family tree for your records.