Away from the complexities associated with testate and intestate succession, I have always found joy in the research.

The referring client can suggest the subject of estate administration is potentially intestate, and we believe they just appeared from the ether. It is up to our team’s investigative expertise to ensure the estate falls into the right hands (as provided in section 46 of the Administration of Estates Act 1925), and the debts are paid up. Presented with such a scenario, I see it more like a puzzle where jumbled up pieces have to join up until the full and correct picture is established.

An estate such as these challenging ones needs to be administered yet when all we have is a name (which may have been changed by deed poll) and a death certificate that can contain inaccurate information especially in circumstances of those with dementia. The journey to completion becomes greater.

Suddenly, you are walking in this research hole that can at times lead you from Lancashire into Oxfordshire then down into the hustle and bustle of London, put in a pinch of Central Europe even and get back down the picturesque South-West of England. It could be her birth in Rochdale or Bury and a subsequent marriage in Croydon before you stumble upon British Army records that show her grandchildren being born in the Rhine to an officer who was deployed there. Not to forget in your research repertoire is the odd neighbour’s testimony, such as “she spoke with a Northern accent” or that carer who said she always made reference to the army. These seemingly casual statements may help tie all the pieces together.

When you reach the point that you have solved the puzzle. The feeling is priceless.

As you retreat to apply the facts to the law of the land; the England and Wales Rules of Intestacy, there is the added joy in putting a name to the unknown deceased. The lady who no one knew where she had appeared from does have a place of birth and a family, you can answer why she spoke in an accent from the North and give a plausible explanation for her adoration for the British forces in Germany. Everything tallies and you have crossed the ‘t’s’ and dotted the ‘i’s’. You are like a hybrid estate administrator who also now has answers to questions that a generation or generations were yearning to get answers to. Indeed, there is beauty in the marriage between genealogy tracing and estate administration.

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