Having some time off has meant that I was able to watch a television programme that I wouldn’t normally (because I should be at work when it is on).
The programme is Heir Hunters, and it is in it’s third series on BBC1 at the moment. The programme is about businesses that primarily trace the blood relations of individuals who died without leaving a will. Obviously the businesses take a percentage of any inheritance that is successfully united with beneficiaries.
Each programme features two or three cases, usually this means showing researchers in an office searching microfilms of the GRO BMD indexes looking for relations, and travellers out on the road visiting possible relations.
From the family historian’s point of view there is not a lot to be learnt from the programme unless you happen to be related to one of the deceased individuals. Although the research involved is slightly different from normal genealogy (in that they are mainly working forward rather than backwards), the research processes shown are pretty much the basics of birth, marriage and death certificates and wills.
Many of the cases dealt with are from the Bona Vacantia Division of the Treasury Solicitor, their website contains a list of current estates which are still unclaimed. The current series can of course still be seen on BBC iPlayer in the UK.