Marcus Paul died in Brick End at the age of 53 with no Will and no known relatives. Fraser and Fraser undertook research to trace the missing beneficiaries. It was clear from the start that the case was not going to be straight forward as we had hoped for. After viewing Mr Paul’s death certificate, we discovered that there was no place or birth stated on the certificate. Furthermore, despite having the actual date, there was no corresponding entry in the birth indexes. Clearly something was wrong; the deceased must have been born somewhere! To research the matter, the case manager was going to have to unearth something new.

Further investigated brought up some curious details. It transpired that Mr Paul had in fact been in hospital the same time as his step-father.

One of the neighbours who had known Mr Paul very well, had also spent considerable time trying to locate his family in time for his funeral but was unsuccessful. She did not know what else she could do and was pleased to find out that someone else was now looking into this as she cared deeply for her neighbour.

Whilst numerous interviews were being carried out, the Treasury Solicitor advised that they too were unable to locate the birth records of Marcus Paul.

Eventually, March Paul’s ex-girlfriend was located and contacted. She told us that Marcus was illegitimate and his first name was in fact Martin and not Marcus. We also found out that his mother was called Violet and Paul was the surname of her second husband.

This piece of missing information was just what we needed to locate the marriage records for Martin’s mother. Martin was indeed born illegitimately and had taken his father’s surname. His mother then married his father, divorced him and subsequently remarried. This led to Martin then taking his step-fathers name, Paul. Here, however, is where the research took an unusual turn. Commonly, this is where we would start compiling an extended family tree, but it came apparent that although Martin’s natural father had passed away, his mother was still alive. This was clearly a sensitive territory.

As tactfully as possible, we contacted her and one of our senior researchers went to visit. Unfortunately, Mrs Paul was in very poor health, having had two previous heart-attacks. She was also caring for her second husband who was in hospital with septicaemia.

Firstly, her identity as Martin’s mother was thoroughly checked; she was able to provide more than enough information to remove any doubt, including knowing that he preferred the name Marcus. For years she had been unable to keep up-to-date with her son’s details, and she left it to him to contact her. Unusually he had not come home for Christmas and it had been 18 months since she had last spoken to him.

She took the news of her son’s death better than could have been expected and was relieved that someone had taken the time to find her. Despite being the only heir, she was not capable of acting as administrator – and duly granted one of our partners a Limited Power of Attorney. She was, however, extremely saddened to hear that unbeknownst to her, her son had died in the same hospital that her husband was admitted at.

Once the administration of the estate was completed, Mrs Paul received a distribution of £19,111.21, which came at a most appropriate time for her. More importantly, she had been treated with all the compassion and tact necessary.

This case study highlights the importance that having the right experience and tools; we can assist you in locating the next-of-kin and are able to distribute estates to the correct people.

If you are having trouble locating next-of-kin, then give us a call and we will be happy to help. Contact us on 020 7832 1400.

NB: Names have been changed for the purpose of this case study