The BBC has commissioned its eighth series of successful BBC Daytime genealogy and social history series ‘Heir Hunters’. It was commissioned by BBC Daytime Controller Damian Kavanagh and Executive Producer Gillian Scothern and will be Series Produced for Flame Television by Sarah Rest.
This latest series of Heir Hunters will reflect the fact that since January 2013 there have been some major changes to the world of probate research. The Treasury Solicitors’ Bona Vacantia division, which handles the estates of people who have died with no known relatives, now publishes its list of unclaimed estates on an almost daily basis –  previously it was at a fixed time each week (Thursday). This means Heir Hunters must be ready to respond to new cases as and when they come in.

The minimum value of advertised estates has also dropped from £5000 to £500 which means that although there are more cases listed, many of these will cost more to research than they are worth. While the number of cases handled by the Treasury has remained largely the same in recent years (24,903 cases handled in 2012-13), the income received by Her Majesty’s Treasury in the last financial year relating to these estates is reported to have fallen to just over £18 million from over £33 million the year before. This is in part due to the increased success of Heir Hunting firms.

Neil Fraser, Partner at Fraser & Fraser says:

“It is satisfying to see that the amount of money that is finding its way back to legally entitled heirs seems to be on the increase.”

Heir Hunting firms continue to work the Bona Vacantia cases they believe to be viable but increasingly they are relying on other sources such as tip-offs from neighbours, solicitor referrals and local knowledge.

To be able to capture this new, faster and more immediate way of working, Flame TV are now following cases on a daily basis.

This series is covering the work of four major probate research firms – Fraser & Fraser, Celtic Research, Hoopers and for the first time this series, Finders.

Daniel Curran, Managing Director and founder of Finders, said:

“We are delighted to have accepted the invitation to join Heir Hunters for Series 8. The commitment to show the human and professional side or our work convinced us that taking part was the right thing to do.”

Heir Hunters will return to BBC One in early 2014