Research
Fraser and Fraser provide specialist research to the legal professions by tracing missing heirs and beneficiaries to unclaimed estates worldwide.

With over 90 years of experience, we have built up a network of European offices and developed partnerships and working relationships with professional genealogists around the world.
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Find Missing Beneficiaries

All cases of locating missing beneficiaries are unique and in order to ensure all bases are covered. There is a research process that needs to be followed, which can involve:

Local Enquiries

Local Enquiries

01
Our friendly and experienced team of Senior Travelling Researchers visit heirs and other family members face-to-face. They also conduct research from official records and in libraries.
Probate Research Technology

Probate Research Technology

02
We use custom-made technology and a variety of online archives for genealogical research.
Birth, Death and Marriage Index

Birth, Death and Marriage Index

03
We have our own copy of these vital records to help build up family trees.
People Finding Software

People Finding Software

04
We use a number of different programs and software to help us complete our research.
Historical Family Trees

Historical Family Trees

05
Our years of experience means we have a huge collection of family trees, dating back to the 1960s.
International Partnership

International Partnership

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We have worked with a number of overseas partners for years, who have helped support our research in countries across the globe.
In House Library

In House Library

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We have a diverse collection of historical records and electoral rolls.
Global Coverage

Global Coverage

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We have offices around the world including France, Poland, and Italy

Our Fee Options
Time Spent

When information is already known we can offer research on a time spent basis. This offers an easy way to monitor the costs incurred by the estate and can help cut costs.

Fixed Fee

Here the fee is agreed according to the perceived difficulty of the research required based on the information the client has. No payment is required if the research is incomplete at the end of the agreed time frame.

Beneficiary Contingency

Suitable for intestacy where there are no known heirs and therefore, no administrator. The fee is paid through an agreement with the beneficiaries we trace – once the estate is distributed, the ‘fee’ is a share of their entitlement. Known heirs are protected from having to pay to find unknown beneficiaries.

Finder’s Fee Contingency

When there is a formal instruction to deal with the Estate or Trust, we can be instructed to find unknown heirs who are entitled in addition to those already identified. Our fee is paid through an agreement with the Personal Representative or Executor – the “fee” being a share of the entitlement of any heirs identified, and is paid when the estate is distributed.

Will Search Service
Will Search Service

Fraser and Fraser’s Will Search has stopped over 3% of cases being wrongly administered, after locating a Will on estates believed to be intestate. We are able to help discover whether a valid Will exists before the estate is distributed. To help avoid an estate being incorrectly distributed and ensure all eventualities are covered, allows you to follow best practice.

Offering a thorough search for both registered and unregistered wills in the UK, using methods such as:

  • Check Probate Registry safe custody clerk
  • Certainty Will Search (REACH, National Wills Register, Missing Will Notice Board)
  • Contacting Will Writers (Members of the Institute of Professional Will Writers and
    Society of Will Writers)

FAQs
1

How long will the process take?

It’s very difficult to specify exactly how long the process will take, but generally, it falls within 12 and 18 months. Occasionally there are some cases which take much longer to process, such as school sites or international work.
Take a look at our timeline ‘How long does probate take?’
2

Can I meet you face-to-face?

We welcome anyone to come and visit our London office to discuss their case. Please call your case manager to arrange an appointment. In most situations, we can also arrange for a Senior Researcher or Case Manager to visit you if you wish.
3

Who is entitled and why?

Under Law of England and Wales, the deceased’s spouse, children or blood relatives who are descendants of the deceased’s grandparents on both sides of the family are entitled when no Will has been left. The intestacy law in other countries can differ, please speak to your case manager for a definitive answer.
4

How are estates divided?

A person’s entitlement is calculated in accordance with Administration of Estates Act (1925), for estates where the deceased died in England and Wales. You can learn more about why family members do not all receive the same share of an estate here. The calculation method may differ if the deceased died outside of England and Wales. You can learn more here.
5

What is a missing beneficiary indemnity policy and how much does it cost?

A Missing Beneficiary Indemnity Policy is a specialised insurance policy taken out to cover the possibility of more heirs or persons coming forward after the estate has been distributed. These heirs or persons may have a higher order claim on the estate and may have not signed an agreement at the time.
The policy covers the administrator/ administratrix and heirs from financial losses that could arise in such circumstances.
6

Are relatives by marriage considered as next-of-kin?

Only blood relatives are classed as next-of-kin. Exceptions include the spouse of the deceased, adopted children and sometimes illegitimate children.
7

Can I put forward a claim myself?

It is legally acceptable for you to carry out the research yourself and put forward your own claim to the deceased’s estate, but it is not always straight forward. As well as proving your own link to the estate, a substantial amount of research is required to demonstrate that you are entitled a share.
It is a criminal offence for anyone to distribute an estate differently from the relevant laws.
8

Is there a time limit for a creditor to make a claim from an estate?

There is a time limit of six years from the date of grant, however; if a relevant Section 27 notice has been issued, the limit can be as short as two months from the date of publication.
9

Is there a time limit for an heir to make a claim on an estate?

Yes, under the Limitation Act (1980) there is a time limit of 12 years after the date the administration was completed.
10

Is there a time limit to claim an estate back from the crown?

The Government Legal Department have a limit of 30 years, although interest on the estate value will only be paid if the claim is within 12 years.
11

Is there a time limit in applying for Grant of Probate or Grant of Administration?

Most often, there is no time limit, however; if there is inheritance tax to pay, then the return must be filed within six months of the date of death before interest is charged.
12

How long do you have to contest a Grant?

You have six months from the date of the Grant, which is why we recommend no distribution takes place until after this time period.
However, it is important to remember that this time limit does not cover fraud or distribution not in line with the Administrations of Estates Act (1925), where there is no time limit. The Limitation Act (1980) means there is a 12 year time period to contest a Grant should a Will be Found.
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