Our core philosophy and belief is that those persons who should benefit from an estate receive their full entitlement, whether this arises from express instructions left in a Will or in accordance with the rules of intestacy when there is no Will.
At Title Research we assist this process in the core areas of locating missing beneficiaries, establishing entitled kin on intestacy and repatriating assets from overseas jurisdictions.
There is guidance set out by STEP in a briefing note regarding genealogy fees, entitled “Personal Representatives and Trustees – Genealogists fees”. This STEP briefing note is designed to outline the primary methods of charging adopted by genealogy firms and the issues to consider.
The cost of providing these support services is in no way dependent or reliant on the value of an estate. The cost involved in carrying out the work always remains the same, regardless of the sums at stake.
We have over 50 years of experience to draw upon and access to the latest technologies and methodologies, which allows us to carry out research in a thorough, timely and efficient manner.
Fixed fees are suitable when the scope of the work required is clear from the outset and offers complete clarity on the cost to resolve a matter in its entirety. We will always offer this fee option for appropriate matters, such as:
Locating missing beneficiaries in the UK
Verifying an existing family tree for the purpose of insurance
Obtaining birth, marriage and death certificates in the UK
Dealing with UK shareholdings, including valuation, verification, transfer and sale
Dealing with overseas shareholdings, including valuation, verification, transfer and sale
Locating Wills in the UK
Conducting bankruptcy searches on beneficiaries domiciled in overseas jurisdictions
Whilst many matters can be resolved on a fixed-fee basis, sometimes there is not sufficient information from the outset in order to accurately quote a fixed fee for the work involved.
In such circumstances we would recommend working on a time and expense or budget basis. Our experienced team would provide an initial assessment based on available information and agree a working budget in advance based on hours spent on the matter. If the matter can be resolved within this budget, then you will only pay for the work carried out. If additional work is required, we would advise you further on the estimated number of hours involved. We will always advise of this and update you at every stage of work to ensure that you are receiving the best possible value and service.
When working on a time and expenses basis, our hourly fees are calculated on an overall average of £155 per hour. More specifically, hourly fees are determined by the level of experience and seniority that a particular researcher has.
In practical application on any given matter, we would instruct our most experienced and senior researchers on the more complex aspects and utilise research assistants for less complex tasks; overall this ensures that cost is contained without comprising quality.
This fee option is most appropriate to resolve the following matters:
Fully reconstructing a family tree on intestacy
Locating overseas beneficiaries
Locating an Administrator on potentially unclaimed estates
Research for Statutory Will applications
Trusts and chains of representation
Title Research do not offer this fee option as we believe it often does not provide value for money and opens up Personal Representatives to a potential risk of future claims. This fee option represents an arrangement whereby a genealogist agrees a percentage of a beneficiaries’ entitlement for locating them, acting as a “finders’ fee”.
If you have been offered this fee option by another company, we would advise that you refer to the STEP guidelines in genealogy fees as well as the advice and warnings below:
Contingency fees can vary between 10-30%, although we have seen higher. Pay careful consideration to whether a percentage fee agreement will offer value to any unknown beneficiaries. For example, consider the fee difference between a 30% share of £1000 and £10,000.
Personal Representatives have a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interest of the estate and its beneficiaries and to maximise its value where possible.
Should unknown beneficiaries incur more cost than known beneficiaries to be located, a potential claim could be made against the Personal Representative.
Although we try to offer a fixed fee wherever we can, sometimes this isn’t possible and we will offer research services on a “time and expenses” basis. This is a charging method whereby an initial working budget is agreed in advance based on our experience of conducting research in a particularly tricky jurisdiction or complex circumstance. It’s possible that research can be concluded within or below that budget, equally it is possible that the budget may be exceeded if research can’t be concluded.
Although we have extensive knowledge both within the UK and internationally, sometimes our research is dependent on the infrastructure of the localities in which we’re conducting that research. We rely on historical registers, databases and documents and unfortunately in some jurisdictions they are not readily available or are not held in a way that makes them easy to access.
In these situations, we may need to charge on a time and expense basis purely because the time-frames involved will be much longer and highly unpredictable. However, we will always advise of this and update your solicitor at every stage of research to ensure that you are receiving the best possible value and service.
If you are the Personal Representative (legally referred to as an Executor or Administrator), then you are personally liable to ensure that the estate is distributed in accordance with the terms of the Deceased’s Will, or the rules of intestacy if there was no Will. Should missing or currently unknown beneficiaries come forward in the future then they would have the right to pursue you for the share of the estate that they did not receive.
By ensuring that a thorough investigation is carried out, and backed up with a missing beneficiary indemnity policy, you can protect yourself from any potential future liability.
Our dedicated team of experts are available Monday to Friday between 9am - 5pm to ensure a resolution is achieved smoothly and efficiently.
Offering our clients total transparency from the start and ensuring more money is left in the estate when it matters.