Heir Hunters: Ethical Considerations And Best Practices

Heir Hunters: Ethical Considerations And Best Practices

Heir Hunters: Ethical Considerations And Best Practices

In the world of genealogy and estate law, heir hunters occupy a unique and often misunderstood niche.

These professionals specialise in tracing unknown or missing heirs to unclaimed estates, playing a crucial role in ensuring that estates and legacies are rightfully passed on to their legal beneficiaries. While the industry offers remarkable opportunities for reconnecting individuals with their heritage and rightful inheritance, it can also present ethical considerations that must be navigated with care.

The Role of Heir Hunters

Heir hunters are typically employed when a person dies intestate—without a will—or when beneficiaries named in a will cannot be easily located. They use a combination of genealogical research, public records, and sometimes even DNA analysis to track down heirs who may be unaware of their entitlements. This service can be invaluable, turning what might otherwise become state-claimed assets into a meaningful inheritance for families.

The Ethical Landscape

The nature of heir hunting inherently involves delicate ethical considerations. The potential for exploitation exists, particularly when dealing with vulnerable individuals who may not fully understand the legal and financial complexities involved. However, no reputable firm would partake in such activities. To ensure that heir hunting is conducted ethically, professionals in this field must adhere to stringent guidelines and best practices.

Transparency and Consent

One of the fundamental ethical principles for heir hunters is transparency. It is imperative that heir hunters clearly explain their role, the process involved, and any fees or commissions they may charge. Potential heirs must be fully informed about the implications of their decisions and the nature of the services being offered. This includes providing clear, written contracts that outline all terms and conditions.

Fair Compensation Practices

Another critical aspect of ethical heir hunting is fair compensation. Heir hunters typically work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they are paid a percentage of the estate’s value if they successfully locate an heir. While this model is standard, it is essential that the fees charged are reasonable and proportionate to the services provided. Exploitative fee structures can undermine the trust necessary for heir hunters to operate ethically. Blanchards promise reasonable fees for our services and are happy to explain the work entailed and why we charge the percentage we quote.

Respect for Privacy and Data Protection

Heir hunters must also prioritise the privacy of the individuals they contact. Given the sensitive nature of personal and genealogical information, maintaining confidentiality and respecting the privacy of potential heirs is paramount. This includes handling data responsibly and ensuring that any information gathered is used solely for the purpose of locating and verifying heirs. Every reputable heir hunting company will consider this of paramount importance, having data security practices in place.

Avoiding Conflict of Interest

Ethical heir hunters must navigate potential conflicts of interest with care. Heir Hunters should not have any financial stake in the outcome of the estate beyond their agreed-upon fee. Furthermore, heir hunters should refrain from engaging in any practices that could be perceived as coercive or manipulative, ensuring that all interactions are conducted with integrity and respect.

Regulatory Compliance and Professional Standards

Adherence to regulatory standards and industry best practices is non-negotiable for ethical heir hunters. This includes compliance with relevant laws and regulations governing estate law, data protection, and consumer rights. Professional organisations and certifications can provide additional frameworks for maintaining high ethical standards, offering training and resources to support heir hunters in their work. See our accreditations here.


The role of heir hunters is undoubtedly valuable, offering a bridge between unclaimed estates and rightful heirs. However, the ethical execution of their duties is crucial to maintaining trust and ensuring that the process benefits all parties involved. By adhering to principles of transparency, fair compensation, privacy, and professional integrity, heir hunters can navigate the complexities of their field responsibly. In doing so, they not only honour the estate but also uphold the ethical standards that define the profession.

Blanchards adhere to every ethical consideration above. Please visit our Google page to see the reviews from satisfied clients. If you wish to work with us please complete this form.

About the author
We are Blanchards and we are Probate Researchers, although you may know us better as ‘Heir Hunters’. Our Managing Director, Adam Blanchard, started the company in 2011 as a small family business in Kent. Due to the outstanding results and exceptional service, Blanchards has grown significantly into a thriving international Heir Hunting firm with a...