I Have an Intestacy But No Client?

Have you been made aware of an intestacy by a neighbour or in-law or a relative who isn’t entitled?

Solution: You need to find an entitled relative to act as the Administrator and instruct your firm. This can be done by using a genealogist who can offer a free Administrator Search.

My firm does not wish to incur fees to research the family and locate an Administrator as we may not get instructed?

If this is the case then you may be thinking of referring the matter to the Bona Vacantia department of the Government Legal Department (GLD). If you do this you will lose out on the chance of receiving the referral to administer the estate. We would recommend you use a free service to locate an Administrator. You can then ask for formal instructions from an entitled heir. If your firm does not get instructed then there are fees liable. THIS IS A RISK FREE AND COST FREE SOLUTION

I have a client who wishes to claim against an estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Your client will not be entitled to take out a grant. They can make a claim against the estate after the Intestate heirs have been contacted. ( and within 6 months of the grant being taken out) The claim would be agreed or contested by the heirs, usually by their solicitors. In the first instance the entitled heirs need to be contacted. Contact a genealogist  and they should be able to advise you  how to proceed this matter in a risk free way

I have an Administrator but have no proof that they are entitled to act as the Administrator

When solicitors are instructed to act in an intestacy the administrator might not be aware of how they are related to the deceased, quite often a “cousin” is a “second  cousin” or even a “cousin-in-law.” It could be that a step  niece believes they are a full blood  niece. In the first instance we would recommend that the validity of the administrator should be checked out by a professional genealogist. This should be a free service and it is best practice this be checked at the outset of an estate administration

I have an Administrator but how do I know they are the nearest relative?

Quite often families are divided and the result is that future generations know little about their family history.  Your administrator may be related but how can he/she be sure there isn’t anyone closer related. Using a free service provided by a genealogist you should be able to check if there are any relatives who would be entitled in priority to your client.  This should be a free service and it is best practice this be checked at the outset of an estate administration.

The family have provided details about all the entitled heirs but how do I know it’s all correct and I have all the heirs?

A hand drawn family tree relying on family testimony and second hand memory is no substitute for thorough genealogical research. It is estimated that intestacies that involve both maternal and paternal families will contain a number of errors or omissions. It would be highly advisable for all family trees to be checked for such errors and omissions. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the Administrator to ensure that distribution is made to the correct heirs. A reputable genealogist should be able to offer a free research assessment to check the family tree.

What type of Insurance is available to protect the administrator from any future claims?

If a family tree check is carried out by a professional genealogist then they should also obtain for you a free indemnity quote to protect the Administrator. As the tree has been verified by a genealogist the premium should be cheaper.

Usually there are 2 types of cover; firstly, a general comfort policy when there is no indication of missing heirs (covers unknowns such as illegitimate births and births abroad) and secondly there is a policy to cover specific missing heirs that could not be located. It is best practice for a Solicitor to offer Insurance to the Administrator.

Always be wary of genealogy companies that are tied in with insurance companies.

Try and use a firm who use a broker to ensure the best deal for your client. If a genealogy company are tied in with an insurance company it could be that they receive commission on every policy they place. That could mean dearer premiums for you.

What if the deceased is born abroad?

A good genealogist should have international coverage and this should be not be a problem, providing as much detail as possible about the deceased can help to speed up matters.

When should I get the advice of an intestacy specialist?

In all intestacies it is worth contacting an intestacy specialist. In every Intestacy there could be a need for the following:

  • Administrator Check
  • Administrator Search
  • Family Tree Verification
  • Missing Will Search
  • Asset Search
  • Bankruptcy Checks
  • AML Checks
  • Distribution Schedules
  • Mailing Lists


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