By Legal Futures’ Associate Finders International
Awards, increases in our staff numbers and numerous media appearances—2019 has been a fantastic year for Finders International, writes founder and CEO Danny Curran.
This year, we became the first probate research company to become a Corporate Affiliate Member of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute. Membership is awarded to companies that support and promote the institute’s aims and values. We want to help our customers by providing them with the information they need and professional probate services. The institute’s message is that trading standards protect society’s most vulnerable people and create level and fair trading conditions where honest businesses thrive, a message we are happy to get behind.
This year, we also received our our Cyber Essentials Certification. Cyber security has taken on huge importance in recent years and we want to be able to demonstrate that we take the issue seriously and will treat customer data properly. In total, we have reported 1249 research cases and have six new panel firms.
Legal support services team
We are now industry partners of CILEx, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. The professional association for lawyers, paralegals and other legal practitioners in England and Wales is the perfect fit for our business. Our legal support services team offers searches for missing wills, unclaimed assets, dormant balances, required documents and checks for bankruptcy around the world.
Finders International has grown steadily over the years and we now have more than 100 members of staff in England, Scotland and Ireland, and we are now an accredited Living Wage Employer as the retention of talented and able employees is core to the success of our business.
As well the private sector, we have always worked with local authorities and health boards, often providing free help in cases where people die with apparent next of kin and no valid will. This year, we became a primary authority partner with the London Borough of Hackney.
Best UK Probate Research Team
And while I am always confident about our services, it helps when we receive recognition, as we did through picking up the ‘Best UK Probate Research Firm’ at the Probate Research Awards 2019. Several of our staff were also awarded for their work: Best Community Contribution (David Lockwood), Best Human Interest Story (the case of Barbara Williams, represented by Amy Cox from Finders and Lawrence Taylor), Best Probate Research Paralegal (Katie Watson), and Best International Probate Researcher (Ryan Gregory).
On a personal note, ensuring we work ethically has always been important to me. This year, many of our staff became Dementia Friends. This Alzheimer’s Society initiative teaches understanding of the condition so that people can work in their communities to promote a more dementia-friendly society.
As ever, we featured on the hugely-popular Heir Hunters TV show. Now on series 9, we’ve been involved since the beginning and the show gives us the chance to raise awareness of professional probate services and what is involved.
I took part in a piece on This Morning to talk about connecting family trees, DNA and testing. Our case where we found a sole beneficiary for an estate, Margaret Abbots who inherited £300,000, was featured in both the Guardian and the Daily Mail.
Heir to his grandfather’s estate
When we contacted Nick Christou to tell him about a potential inheritance, quite rightly Mr Christou checked up on through research on Companies House. Satisfied the contact was legit, we were able to prove he was the legitimate heir to a share in his late grandfather’s estate. Mr Christou hadn’t even known of his grandfather, Jim’s existence. Jim Ross had been a member of a lottery syndicate that had been quite successful, meaning that the estate was far larger than Finders initially thought, and his grandson inherited the life-changing sum of £70,000.
We worked with colleagues in Germany to helped unravel the case of Jozef Domanski, a former Worcestershire textile worker from Kidderminster who died without leaving a will. The search for his heirs took seven years of extensive research and work, and the story was featured in The Times.
Jozef arrived in the UK on one of the four waves of immigration that have taken place since just before World War 2. He had been sent to Germany as a teenager by his parents and arrived in this country after Germany was liberated by the Allies.
We were able to find his sister, Helena, in Poland and she is set to inherit his £75,000 estate.
In addition, my article on probate research How to select the right firm featured in the Law Society Gazette’s private client section, and Giving up the Ghost was printed in the Law Society Gazette for Ireland.
Maeve Mullin, our international researcher in our Dublin office, took part in Ireland AM to discuss our work there, and we also took part in numerous interviews on local radio throughout the UK.
All in all, I am delighted that the business I founded more than 20 years has come on in leaps and bounds, and we are looking forward to more of the same next year.
Merry Christmas and I look forward to working with you in 2020.