Here you will find answers to some of your most pressing questions. If you have a question that isn’t answered here, please contact us.
Who can claim an inheritance if a person dies without a will?
Legislation in England and Wales, recognises the claims of a spouse, children and other blood relatives -up to first cousins once removed.
Do I have to share any inheritance with other relatives?
Yes, if there are other relatives who have a similar family relationship to the deceased.
How will I know that any information I give to Thames Probate will not be used for other purpose?
We are bound by our own strict code of ethics: even the solicitors we work for will only receive information that is necessary to establish a claim. Also the UK Data Protection laws, enforced by the Information Commissioner, govern how we may use any personal information that we hold.
How do I know this isn’t a scam of some sort?
We have contacted you after identifying an unclaimed estate in which we believe you may be entitled to share. You do not need to undertake any work or incur any expenses to prove your entitlement. We only ask to be paid the pre-agreed fee if and when you receive a share of the estate. We would not waste your time or ours unless we were confident of being able to prove your entitlement.
How do you search for next-of- kin?
We use several different methods to trace people, including electoral rolls, birth, death and marriage certificates and in-house historical books.
What if I am not entitled to anything after all? Do I still have to pay you?
We only approached you because, to the best of our knowledge, you will have an entitlement. However, in the unlikely event that, through unforeseen circumstances, you turn out not to be entitled – then you will not be liable to us or anyone else for any fees or expenses whatsoever.
Another firm has approached me, what do I do now?
We welcome anyone who has been contacted by another firm to get in touch with us to discuss your case. If you have been contacted by us as well as another firm, please give us a call.
How did you get my details?
We obtain contact details through publicly available records. These include Census records, electoral roles, birth, marriage and death records as well as probates.
If I do get something from the estate, how do I know that your agreed fee won’t swallow up most or all of my inheritance?
Our agreed fee is always based on a fixed percentage of whatever you receive. It cannot come to more than the inheritance you receive.
How can I be sure that I will get the money that is due to me?
These estates are administered and distributed by Solicitors, who have a professional duty to ensure that an estate is administered properly for the benefit of the heirs. The Solicitors have to send Estate Accounts for approval to all the heirs before the estate can be distributed. They will send your inheritance to you once the administration of the estate is complete. We are not involved in the administration and distribution of the estate. Our task is to identify the heirs.
Will I have to pay Solicitors costs?
No. The Solicitors who undertake the administration and distribution of the estate are paid out of the estate, and not by you personally.
How soon will I get my money?
It is difficult to be exact about this, but we usually say to beneficiaries that on average it is about a year from the time we first contact them to the time when the estate can be distributed. Sometimes it can be less than a year – but obviously if an estate is complicated, it can take longer.
The estate has to be fully administered before it can be distributed. This may involve the sale of a house or flat and/or other assets such as shares, and the payment of any debts and liabilities. The deceased person’s tax affairs also have to be settled to the satisfaction of HM Revenue & Customs.
I haven’t heard from Thames Probate in a few months, is there a problem?
It’s not uncommon for many months to pass without any communication from us; this simply means our work is progressing. However, should you require an update on our progress, you are welcome to email or call.
Is the estate in question always in the form of money only, or can there be other assets as well? If the latter, please explain how payment of your fee would work.
The estate of a deceased person consists of all their assets, whatever form they may take. The most common assets are bank accounts or a property. Sometimes there are shares as well, or antiques or other valuable items. Any assets not in the form of money have to be sold by the Administrators so that their cash value can be realised. This means that the estate, when it comes to be distributed, is in the form of money only. Our fee is calculated on the sum of money that a beneficiary receives.
Will I be liable to pay VAT?
You will only be liable to pay VAT on our fee if you reside in the UK or European Union. VAT at the current standard rate is paid only on our fee and not on your total inheritance. If you are resident outside the European Union you are not liable to pay VAT on our fee.
I don’t feel right about taking money from a distant relation whom I have never even heard of. Couldn’t the money go to a good cause instead?
If no heirs were identified, this money would simply pass to the Crown, and would certainly not go to any charities or good causes. You are of course free to donate all or part of your inheritance to a good cause when you have received it.
I don’t really need the money, but I am interested in finding out more about the person who left the money, and about other distant relations that I have lost touch with. Will you be able to provide me with more information?
If you decide to use our services, we will first send you a detailed letter identifying the person who has left the unclaimed estate and describing in detail your connection to that person. Once our researches into the family are complete, we will be very happy to let you have access to the genealogical information we have gathered if you are interested.