FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Please find the section you are looking for, and scroll down the questions:
- What happened with the funeral?
If no one is prepared or available to arrange the funeral, then it is taken care of by the local authorities.
- What happens to the personal possessions of the deceased?
In most cases the personal possessions of the deceased are liquidated to enable an equal and legal distribution from the estate. In some cases it may be possible for you and other beneficiaries to buy specific items, such as jewellery, at market value, or if the item has no value for you to have it. If you would like something from the deceased's estate it is best to contact the administering solicitors as early as possible.
- Who is entitled to the estate of someone who has died intestate (without a will)?
Under the Law of England and Wales, the deceased's spouse, children or blood relatives who are descended from the deceased's grandparents on either his mother or father's side of the family.
The intestate law in other countries may differ from that of England and Wales, and in these cases it is best to speak to the Case Manager who is dealing with the case for a definite answer.
- Are relatives by marriage regarded as next-of-kin?
With a few exceptions, only blood relatives are classed as next-of-kin. The exceptions are the spouse of the deceased, adopted children, and may also include any illegitimate children.
- How do you search for next-of-kin?
We use several different methods to trace people. Fraser & Fraser have access to electoral rolls, birth, marriage and death certificates, our own vast databases, in-house historical books, and numerous other sources. We also have over 350 years of experience in the firm to guide us in the correct direction.
- I have several cousins and believe I am entitled to the estate; do I have to share it with them?
If the cousins are entitled in the same way as you, the answer is Yes. It may be that your cousins are cousins from a different part of your family and they are not related to the deceased, in which case they are not entitled.
- What do you mean by "two sides of the family"?
In cases where the research has to be taken back to the grandparents of the deceased, there are two different families involved: Firstly the grandparents of the deceased's mother, and her siblings; secondly the grandparents of the deceased's father, and his siblings. Each uncle and aunt is entitled to an equal share of the estate.
- Can you give me the names and addresses of others members of my family?
Under the Data Protection Act 1998 it is a legal requirement for persons and companies not to divulge any personal details. Fraser & Fraser take this very seriously and thus are registered on the Data Protection Register. We are, however, more than happy to forward your details to other members of the family at your request.
- Why are one of my relative's children heirs, but mine are not?
Your nieces or nephews will be receiving a share of the inheritance because they are descendants (children) of an heir who has passed away. You are still alive, so your claim supersedes your children's claim. Hence, you receive the share that would have gone to your children if you had already passed away. Once you have received your share, you may keep it, or pass it on to others, as you see fit.
- Is there a time limit on making a claim?
There is a time limit of 12 years for an initial claim to be submitted although claims made within 30 years are processed at the discretion of the Crown. Once a claim is submitted and accepted then there is no time limit to abide by.
- Are there any interest payments on the estate?
The monies in the estate do earn interest and continue to belong to the estate. Property and artefacts in the estate are valued at the time they are liquidated (sold).
- I am not related to the deceased but did help him/her with shopping and other expenses. Can I be reimbursed for this?
The administrator/administratrix has a very narrow power to make discretionary payments to a person but would require evidence of the costs relating to the aid given. (S)he would usually need the consent of all the beneficiaries.
- Does the Crown become involved if there are blood relatives but they do not wish to deal with the estate?
No, the Crown can only act if there are no known heirs to an estate. As soon as heirs are found and a claim accepted, the Crown can no longer act for or control the estate.
- Someone else has approached me stating that I may be entitled to an estate and suggested I sign a contract with him or her. Have you, the Crown, or any one else employed them?
Possibly. If the matter has gone to the Treasury because there are no known heirs to the estate, many firms work speculatively and you may have been contacted by more than one firm. Genealogists may be appointed by solicitors or others to carry research on some other types of cases.
The Crown does not employ or appoint anyone to trace beneficiaries on its behalf.
Fraser & Fraser do not outsource work, or employ any agents in England and Wales other than its own employees.
- Tell me more about the administrator/administratrix
- Does the administrator/administratrix receive any more money than me?
The administrator/administratrix receives only the monies they are entitled to under the distribution rules governed by the intestate laws, and no extra monies for being the administrator/administratrix. The administrator can re-claim reasonable expenses actually incurred in dealing with the administration of the estate.
- How long will the process take?
It is very difficult to put a figure on the length of time it will take for this process to be concluded. Generally it will take between 12 and 18 months from the time we start our research, although we do on occasion have cases which take much longer to progress.
- What is a Missing Beneficiary Indemnity Policy, and what are the costs?
A Missing Beneficiary Indemnity Policy is a specialised insurance policy taken out to cover the possibility of more heirs or persons with a higher order claim on the estate, coming forward at a later time. The policy covers the administrator/administratrix and heirs from financial loses that could result in such circumstances.
- Can I have a family tree once you have finished your work?
We will make available an outline family tree to the heirs on request and subsequent trees can be purchased once the work is completed.
- Can I visit you to discuss the proposal?
Fraser & Fraser welcome anyone to come on appointment to visit our London office and discuss their case. Please call your case manager to arrange an appointment.