Finders International, one of the UK’s leading probate genealogy firms and stars of BBC One show Heir Hunters, has joined the podcast revolution with the aptly named, ‘On Heir’ Podcast, which is now available online.
The ‘On Heir’ Podcast delves behind the scenes with legal industry leaders. Each month, Finders International’s senior business development manager, David Lockwood, hosts a 30-minute discussion, in which he extracts insights from those working in the probate and private client industries, by looking at the person behind the subject and asking them why they do what they do.
The podcast kicks off with an interview with Danny Curran, the founder and CEO of Finders International. Danny set up Finders International in 1997, and it has since become a byword for professionalism in the probate genealogy industry, appearing on the hit TV show Heir Hunters numerous times.
From private detective work to probate
Episode one explores Danny’s path to the probate industry. In the 1960s, his father worked as a private detective, and his business evolved into a probate research firm, where Danny worked for seven years before branching out on his own.
“In those days,” he says, “the main business was Bona Vacantia, which most people will know about thanks to daytime BBC One TV show, Heir Hunters. The Crown Office administers the Bona Vacantia list, which compiles the records of those who die with no apparent next of kin and no valid will in place.
“The Bona Vacantia records were published in the Times and the Evening Standard in the 1990s, or in local papers if the person had died in Leeds, for example. I realised that the other companies were a bit complacent, so I would head for King’s Cross station every night, which was an interesting experience in and of itself, and wait for the first editions of the newspapers to be delivered.”
Crown Office fraud
The estate’s value was listed at the time, but it was later withdrawn due to fraud within the Crown Office itself. Danny would return to his office at 12.30am after picking up his newspapers and skim through public records of births, marriages and deaths using a Microfiche reader.
“Nowadays, you type that information into a computer and Google will bring up records in seconds, but then it was a laborious process and you had to use a lot of guesswork, trying to estimate how old someone might have been to find the relevant birth record.
“I had some lucky breaks early on, and I’d drive out to see the family members I’d found in order to persuade them to sign up for my services.”
Danny attributes his early success to hard graft and forward-thinking tactics. He also established a loyal following of solicitors he had previously worked with, who were eager to send business his way.
His interest in history also attracted him to the job, and in the podcast he reveals how as a civil servant he had studied Wandsworth’s prison records for Ronnie Biggs, while host David Lockwood shares his own connection to one of the UK’s most notorious criminals.
Future episodes of the podcast will feature partners from England’s premier legal firms discussing their work in probate, as well as other Finders International staff members working in international assets and probate genealogy in Ireland.