17 Dec 2016
Three Case Studies
Genealogy on a grand scale
Very occasionally we’re asked to work on a case which becomes something of an epic. Our biggest project this year started with a Scottish Will in which the Deceased left her substantial estate to her “heirs”. Having died without any children, siblings or uncles and aunts we had to direct our research to her grandparents and their siblings. It quickly emerged that all four grandparents were from large families and, as a result, her family tree was more of a forest. Not only were the branches extensive, they were also intrepid. By the conclusion of our research, we’d located over 130 heirs to the estate, some of whom were living in Canada, Australia, South Africa and the United States.
Some of our clients fear that undertaking genealogical research when modest sums are involved can never be cost-effective and as a result small matters can end up being left in the proverbial “bottom drawer”. Having heard one of our colleagues speaking about our services at a conference a new client contacted us about a case in which the Deceased had left a modest legacy of £1,000, believing that to undertake research would exhaust the monies entirely. We were, however, able to locate the missing legatee within two hours and, at our hourly rate of £75 per hour, only invoiced for £120 allowing the newly located legatee to receive a tidy sum in time for Christmas.
For your information, our standard capped fee to locate a missing UK legatee is £150, exclusive of VAT and disbursements. And because our fees are capped rather than fixed, if it takes us less than two hours to resolve a missing legatee case that is reflected in our invoice.
We were recently approached by a solicitor who had been referred a small estate of about £20K by a Deceased person’s neighbour. They were advised by a competitor that their fees would make such a dent in the estate the matter would be best passed straight to the Treasury Solicitor. Not wanting to do this they came to us for a second opinion.
Half an hour or so consulting in-house databases suggested that the statutory next of kin was likely to be in the class of the uncles and aunts and, where they had died, their issue. The families seemed relatively small and the names were uncommon and we recommended a Rainmaker to find a suitable potential Administrator which we did for around £300. Once our client had received instructions to act we found the remaining outstanding heirs for around £1,200, representing 16 hours of our time. We were delighted to complete the case and invoice for the work, our client was glad to have retained the administration and the heirs were pleased with their windfall which they received in full.
All names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals.