How to protect yourself against probate research scammers - The Solihull Observer

How to protect yourself against probate research scammers

Solihull Editorial 5th May, 2023 Updated: 10th May, 2023   0

Daniel Curran, Finders International shares his top tips

Probate genealogy, also known as ‘heir hunting’, is the practice of tracing the descendants of a deceased person who has died without leaving a will and who appears to have no next of kin to determine who is entitled to inherit their estate.

There are many scammers out there pretending to be probate researchers. Impersonation scams cost the UK £177.6m last year, according to new data. Fraudsters commonly contact consumers via post, text, telephone or email in an attempt to access funds.

Unfortunately, scams have become harder to spot. Once obvious typos or fraudulent looking websites are no longer solely reflective of the tactics the criminals use.

To protect yourself against scams in the probate genealogist business, Daniel Curran, Finders International Founder & MD, offers these tips:




  • Do your research. If you are approached by a Probate Genealogist, research their credentials and reputation. Look for reviews and testimonials from past clients, and check if they are a member of any professional organisations, such as the Association of Professional Genealogists.
  • Ask if the company is a member of the International Association of Professional Probate Researchers (IAPPR), whose members sign up to a professional code of conduct and ethics.
  • Verify the researcher’s claims. A reputable probate genealogist should be able to confirm the name of the deceased, the reason for their enquiries and why they’ve been instructed to work on this case.
  • Ask for a written contract. Before agreeing to anything, make sure you have a written contract that outlines the scope of the work, the fees and the timeline. Review the contract carefully and ask questions if anything is unclear.
  • Don’t pay upfront. Be wary of any probate genealogy firms or individuals who ask for payment upfront. Reputable professionals typically charge a percentage of the estate they help you claim.
  • Back away from anyone using high-pressure sales tactics. Scammers often use high-pressure tactics to try to get you to sign up with them or pay money. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, do not feel obliged to work with them.
  • Seek legal advice. You can also seek legal advice if you are unsure about any aspect of the probate genealogy process, as a lawyer can help you understand your rights and protect your interests.

Daniel Curran, comments: “Sadly, probate genealogy isn’t a regulated industry, which is why you sometimes hear horror stories, but by following the tips above, you can protect yourself against scams and ensure that you end up working with reputable professionals.”

Friends Against Scams

We are proud to be the first probate research firm to become ‘Friends Against Scams’. Our industry became well known through the BBC One daytime TV show Heir Hunters, and Finders International wish to remain vigilant and responsible in proving our credentials are backed by our commitment to Friends Against Scams.


Finders International are a Probate Research company, regulated by the IAPPR. Feel free to contact us with any questions via our website or by contacting us on 0207 490 4935.

Follow/connect with Daniel Curran on social media:

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