Tuesday, 15 January 2008

A lucrative field of genealogy

Last time I was in England I picked up a copy of The Times to read Thursday's official list of estates with no known beneficiaries. The listings are brief, name, address, date of death and amount in the estate. About 2,000 estates are listed each year. You can also search listings, seemingly not including estate value, at the Bona Vacantia web site.

Companies in Britain, and elsewhere, work to find beneficiaries and do the work for them of claiming their share of the estate. The companies typically work for a fee of 20-25% of the estate. It's probably one of the more lucrative fields of genealogy. They must be quite successful as relatively few cases seem to go unsolved.

If "Who Do You Think You Are" and "Ancestors in the Attic" have given you a taste for family history research programs you might enjoy the opportunity to screen episodes of a BBC program, Heir Hunters, available free online. There are 15 full-length episodes available showing the work and its competitive nature. The thrill of the chase is evident.

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