In order for us to supply details of your claim to the estate administrators, we ask you to agree that we will be paid a percentage of your entitlement in consideration of the work we have undertaken to trace you. The percentage we charge varies and will usually reflect two factors:
1. Your degree of kinship to the deceased, e.g. whether you are a nephew or a first cousin three times removed. Related to this is the amount of work that we have put in to trace you, work undertaken by us in the knowledge that we would not recover our research expenses if we were unable to find you. Generally, a closer relative may be offered a smaller percentage fee, reflecting the amount of work involved. If there are very common surnames involved (examples being Jones, Smith, Brown and Williams) our fee may also reflect the extra work required to bring the matter to conclusion.
2. The size of the estate. During the early stages of our research, it is very difficult for us to tell you how much your potential share is worth. Administrators will normally be able to provide an estimation of the value of an estate but sometimes, when the administration is complete, the amount of money distributed may be lower than we had originally anticipated – if, for example, there are unforeseen liabilities (debts) involved. In the case of a very modest estate, we are more likely to ask for a higher fee to reflect our costs in tracing you and to cover the financial risk to ourselves.
The percentage fees offered by probate genealogists reflect the highly speculative nature of their work, which may involve tracing dozens of beneficiaries, entitled to just a few pounds each by the time an estate is finalised. However, whatever the value of the estate, we always aim to keep our fees in proportion to the work involved and therefore as competitive as possible.
Our assurance to you as a potential heir to an estate
By signing our fee agreement, we guarantee that:
- the only fee we will receive from you will be as a percentage of your entitlement and at no time will we ask you for any other money
- we will inform you in writing of the basis of your entitlement prior to the distribution of the estate, disclosing in full the details of your relationship to the person who has died
- if you wish to abandon your claim, you will not be liable to us for any fees
- we will only receive our fee if you receive your share of the estate in question