Friday, January 4, 2008

Heir Hunters Videos on BBC

A post on the Transitional-Genealogists-Forum mailing list hosted by Rootsweb by Melissa Barker provided a link to the Fraser & Fraser web site ( Fraser & Fraser are heir hunters - a United Kingdom firm that specializes in International Probate Research.

Heir hunting is a competitive business - if someone dies without a will or trust, there may be a sizable estate. Companies like Fraser & Fraser perform some research to find heirs, attempt to sign them up, and then receive a percentage of the inheritance as a result of their research work. It is competitive in many places, including the USA. Apparently, if estates are not settled in a specific time in the UK, the government receives the estate - 25 million pounds in a recent year.

On the Fraser & Fraser site are links to 15 episodes of hour-long videos that were broadcast on the BBC from 4 June to 22 June 2007 about probate research in England.

I watched the first video, which showed the initial search to find heirs to Samuel Summersby who left an estate of 300,000 pounds, and then showed the contacts of the heirs (cousins of Mr. Summersby) by the F&F employees. Needless to say, the videos are very well done with a detective story flair. You see the work in the office, the work by the researchers in the field, and the reactions of the heirs to their good fortune.

If you are interested in doing heir research, or even interested in researching in England, these videos may be very helpful and interesting. It was a fun hour away from the Russell Smith search!

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