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2023 Probate Research Awards highlights the effect of decolonisation on probate industry

Probate solicitors and “heir hunters” were awarded for their success in solving international intestacy cases, predominantly linked to recent deaths of nationals born in their countries of origin – that gained independence in the mid 20th century – at the 2023 Probate Research Awards.

Now in its fifth year, the Awards unofficially known as “The Probies” was hosted by criminal barrister and TV personality, Rob Rinder, judged competing probate solicitors and heir hunters of all sizes across the UK, and globally, on service, client success and exceptional cases.

The awards also evaluated will writing, deputyship and paralegal rising stars, in addition to support services to industry such as household clearance and probate property specialists.

Notable winners

  • Heir hunter Daniel Curran, founder of forensic genealogy firm, Finders International won the category of Probate Research Firm of the Year for a fifth year in a row. Judges awarded the top accolade best on the firm’s growth and track record of client success (some cases of which featured on BBC’s Heir Hunters show), multi-sector work, development and training for the legal sector – and notable pro bono work for local authorities across the UK.
  • com won Best Industry Service provider based on the firm’s exceptional track record of rescuing hundreds of empty and derelict homes blighting the country, helping solve dead-locked probate cases and having been praised by every national newspaper for rewarding and partnering with the public in getting empty homes placed back into use.
  • Best Human Interest Story category was won by Klaas Zondervan of Tracers International for having solved the compelling, sad and heart-warming story of Sapikja Astamun born in then rural Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) who moved to the Netherlands in the 50s.  Upon her death, Zondervan painstakingly traced her siblings who had spent most of their lives living in poverty on $20 dollars a month.  The inheritance enabled Astamun’s relatives the opportunity to retire following the grant of probate.
  • Ramsdens Solicitors secured Best Probate Law Firm based on the firm’s growth and 100 per cent client satisfaction.

Heir hunters rise to the challenge through global partnerships

Geoffrey Odds, company secretary of the International Association of Professional Probate Researchers and Genealogists (IAPPR) commented:

“We’ve reached a point in time when probate researchers (or solicitors) are dealing with a glut of cases linked to the birth of many new nations declaring statehood from the 1930s to the 1960s. Many family members were left behind, some never seeing their relatives again and this has presented a whole new set of challenges for probate solicitors (or heir hunters) in cross-border cooperation, foreign jurisdictions and a race against time to identify surviving family members.

While this has been a challenge for the industry, it’s hugely encouraging to see ever-increased collaboration between UK and global heir hunters, probate solicitors and support services honouring the legacy of those who have passed away outside their countries of origin.”

One Response

  1. Other large probate research firms in the UK are conspicuous by their absence. One has to wonder if these awards are truly reflective of that particular industry.

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