Resolving the Estate
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Susan Ware, a once independent woman, found herself in a vulnerable position in her late 70s when she fell victim to financial exploitation by her cleaner. With no immediate family to turn to, the Council stepped in as her appointee to address the situation. Despite having ample means, Susan never executed a will, often citing her lack of beneficiaries. As her health declined, Susan eventually moved into a care home where she passed away in her mid-80s.

The Council’s Dilemma

Upon Susan’s death, the care home faced a predicament: there were no known relatives to arrange her funeral, nor were there clear directives regarding her estate. The Council, acting as Susan’s appointee and holding her financial assets, found itself in a complex position. Additionally, Susan’s property remained unoccupied and deteriorating, prompting concerns from the Council’s Empty Homes Officer about potential legal action under s. 215 T&CPA.

In summary we can see that the Council is:

The Council could not simply pay itself what it was owed from the assets it was holding for Susan, other than for her funeral. With no will being made, and nothing was known of her family, if indeed she had one, the Council had no idea who to approach regarding her funeral or to whom they should transfer the funds they were holding and send the care home’s final invoice to.

The Approach

Recognising the intricate nature of Susan’s case, the Council sought assistance to navigate the legal and logistical challenges. Rather than immediately referring the case to Government Legal Department, they engaged the use of probate research services. With Susan’s passing, GDPR compliance was not an issue, enabling the team of researchers to delve into her family history without constraint. The Probate Research firm were able to successfully uncover a network of more than 40 cousins dispersed across the globe.

Resolving the Estate

With the consent of Susan’s extended family, the firm assumed responsibility for administering her estate. This included organising her funeral, thereby relieving the Council of the burden and costs associated with this responsibility. Once granted probate, the firm facilitated the transfer of funds held by the Council, settling Susan’s outstanding debts and ensuring a smooth transition on her property into new ownership. The diligent efforts resulted in the property being refurbished and occupied, contributing to Bringing Empty Homes Back into Use.

How we can support

Our clients include Public Sector departments, legal professionals and beneficiaries – who rely on us to trace missing heirs and beneficiaries to unclaimed estates and derelict properties. Probate research is the process of identifying, locating and tracing missing beneficiaries. Our task as probate researchers consists of:

  • tracing people who are entitled to a share of an estate
  • locating a person who has been named in a will but cannot be found
  • delving into the family history of the deceased who has no will, and find their next-of-kin.
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