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The dark side of probate research

16 August 2016

The BBC's Heir Hunters increased public awareness of the role of probate genealogists, but solicitors should be aware of the risks of working with some of these amateur researchers, warns Carolyn Lord

In 2007 the BBC launched Heir Hunters, a programme that follows the fortunes of probate genealogists as they race to locate missing heirs of intestate estates.

By 2008 the title had morphed into H£ir Hunt£rs. Pound signs were waved at viewers, directing them towards what was once
a relatively unknown and specialist industry - an industry, crucially, that is unregulated.

Probate research involves tracing an intestate person's family tree backwards through time until all the entitled living branches are identified and
then traced to present-day beneficiaries. A competent probate researcher needs to
be a competent genealogist.
The work is largely speculative, with remuneration o...

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