Heir Hunter Faces A £250,000 Bill For Bad Behaviour

Heir Hunter Faces A £250,000 Bill For Bad Behaviour

Heir hunters are a valuable resource to find beneficiaries of an estate if the person has died without leaving a Will. It should be remembered that these companies are not regulated and get paid on results i.e. actually finding the heirs, so their techniques are sometimes questionable as the following High Court case demonstrates.

A 98-year-old lady died and she owned property and other assets valued at £600,000. It was the local Council that requested the help of heir hunters to find the beneficiaries as the property, which formed the biggest part of her assets, had been empty for some time and would be deteriorating.

The heir hunter wasted no time and traced up to 30 relatives, he also got one of them to grant him Power of Attorney so he could administer the estate. The house was emptied and the locks changed then the house was put up for auction. The heir hunter stood to profit at least £75,000 from the case.

A niece came forward to advise that the lady had made a Will, of which she had a copy, as she was named as one of the executors. There was no trace of the original. The Will left the property to a nephew as well as 22 animal charities that would also benefit to the tune of £122,000 between them.

Despite trying to discredit the Will by looking at medical records to prove she lacked the mental capacity to make it, the hunter had to stand down and remove the property from auction and withdraw from the administration of the estate, however he requested the estate to pay £134,000 in costs to him.

At the High Court the judge stated that the heir hunter should bear the total costs of £250,000 as he continued with the administration, tried to pressurise the nephew into walking away and discrediting the Will when he was not going to succeed. He was purely motivated by money and was blocking any progress to resolve the estate thereby causing an escalation of costs.

This demonstrates why it is necessary not only to make a Will but make sure someone knows where it is. We can help. Contact us online or by phone on 0800 3 10 11 12 today.