One such case was that of an elderly lady who had died aged 93 intestate, who apparently had no surviving family. The solicitor looking after her estate came to us to see if we would be able to find out if, in fact, she did have any heirs. Her husband had died several years before, and as far as the care home was concerned, there were no known relatives. The lady had been in the home with dementia for a while, and when questioned the staff confirmed that she had never received a single visitor in all the time she had been there.
On starting the investigation at the first point of call, the date of birth and genealogy of the lady herself, we discovered that she had been born in the UK in the early 1920’s. We also found that her parents were from a small village just 8 miles from Dublin, but had a very common Irish name which of course widened the search further and did little to help us in our quest to find surviving members of her family – if they existed at all.
Her parents were married in the small village, moving to the UK the year after. They had one other child, a son born two years after their relocation, but he unfortunately died aged 4 in the late 1920’s. We then checked for other children from the marriage, but there weren’t any other than the lady herself and her brother who had died at such a tragically young age.
Coming to a dead end with this line of enquiry, we then had to research the family in Ireland in more depth and go through all family members in the Dublin records office. Unfortunately, because they were born such a long time ago, most of the family members had also died or had emigrated to other countries.
After further research we eventually found family members who would have been cousins, nephews and nieces. A factor which further proved to be problematic was that unlike most families in Ireland, they were very few children to each marriage - and many had died young. Finally, we found one first cousin who had died 12 years ago - also in the UK – who crucially had one child. That child is now the only living heir and sole beneficiary to the estate of the lady who had died alone in the care home, who had been presumed to have no surviving family.
As you can see, on occasion tracing the heir to an estate isn’t quite as simple as you may think – especially in the absence of a will. Although records and consensuses are readily available, if that person is particularly old or has few family members apparent at their time of death, it can make for a lengthy and complicated search to find their surviving family. This particular case is one of the longest cases we have ever had when tracing someone - as it took us 6 months to complete.
Please keep following the blog for further case studies – and if you have somebody you wish to find then please contact us for details of our ‘no trace, no fee’ guarantee.