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Heir Hunters spend their lives tracking down families of people who've died without leaving a will.
They hand over thousands of pounds to long-lost relatives
who had no idea they were in line for a windfall.
Could they be knocking at your door?
On today's programme...
a man who has lost contact with his brother gets some shocking news...
The last time I saw him, about eight years and I'm the last one of the family.
And the story of a man who made a life in Britain,
but for fifty years never revealed the true details of his past.
Never did he mention family when we used to ask him and he'd say,
"Well, my mother and father are dead and I've no brothers and sisters."
Plus the unclaimed estate sitting dormant at the Treasury - are you about to inherit a fortune?
It's incredible, but true.
Every year two thirds of people in the UK die without leaving a will.
With no will and no heirs, their entire estate will be absorbed into the Treasury as unclaimed funds.
In 2007 alone, a massive £18 million was left unspoken for.
Across the country, around 30 heir-hunting companies make it
their business to track down long-lost relatives,
hoping to claw back some of the cash for the rightful heirs
-and at the same time, win themselves a commission.
With offices across the UK and Europe, Fraser & Fraser are one of the established firms.
They've tackled estates ranging from £5,000-£500,000
and have successfully claimed back more than £100 million for heirs...
often in the process, reuniting families that have lost touch.
I'm Margaret. Don't be nervous.
Sometimes we are the link, we are the actual people who put
people back in touch with each other and that is just so rewarding.
It's 8.15 am on Thursday at Frasers' Central London headquarters.
It's the day the Treasury publish the list of unclaimed estates.
Most of the team is already in the office.
-This one there, she didn't know the deceased but confirmed it was sheltered housing.
-So she did?
But didn't know the deceased.
Partner, Neil Fraser, has been hard at work for several hours.
He's been sifting through potential cases but he can't find any high value estates.
Generally we have a rule that we try not to work anything
under the £30,000 sort of barrier, that sort of mark...
which, if anyone owns a property, they'd certainly have above the value of £30,000.
Where we have the problem is trying to identify the cases in between the valued property cases
and down to the lower end of our sort of spectrum.
The Heir Hunters work on a commission basis and an office
like Frasers' need a good size estate to cover their expenses.
Just check to see if there are any people with these initials, yeah?
But when the team is unable to find anything with a high enough value,
the next best option is to tackle something that will be fast to solve.
What we're looking at here is a case of Kenneth Wren.
Now a quick search of our records and in doing a quick look-around for his birth,
I've been able to find a birth in Romford and that's in 1929,
and that ties up with four other births, so four other siblings.
So it looks like the Heir Hunters have already found brothers and sisters for the deceased.
Kenneth Wren was 79 when he passed away in Essex in 2008.
He had lived in Romford all his life but died alone in Goodmayes Hospital
and although he lived in sheltered accommodation for nearly 16 years, none of his neighbours knew him.
Nor was he well-known in the local community, but surely he must have had a past?
Case Manager, David Pacifico, has been trying to contact
the manager of Kenneth's flat to find out about his finances.
We haven't been able to speak to anybody.
It is sheltered accommodation.
We know very little about him at the moment.
Value-wise, I'm not convinced it's got much value.
To make it onto the Treasury's list of unclaimed estates,
the personal wealth of the deceased must be a minimum of £5,000.
As Kenneth was living in a council-funded flat, it is unlikely that he had many savings, but
Neil thinks the virtue of this case is that it should be quick to work.
Initially, it looks like we may get near kin, so that's why we're playing with this at the moment.
Fingers crossed, we may find some indication that there's a bit more value than we think there is.
From the birth records they have on file, the Heir Hunters have already traced four possible siblings.
Kenneth was born in 1929.
They found three older brothers...
Henry, Stanley and Clifford and a sister, Gladys, who was born in 1917.
So we've got a Stanley H and a Gladys EM.
Now they're the two best names that we've got so we've been able to made headway on those quite easily.
From their birth certificates, the team can see that Kenneth's father is Alfred, and his mum is Rosetta,
also known as Rose, and they've traced a marriage to 1908.
What's this name - Stickwood?
Head Researcher, Gareth, knows that if the parents married in 1908,
there is a good chance that the newly-weds will be listed on the 1911 Census.
Well, I've just found the census of,
hopefully, Alfred and Rose Wren who are the parents of the deceased.
The census is taken every ten years and provides a snapshot of each household in the country.
It includes details of age, marital status,
number of children and type of work and the information is released to the public after 100 years.
But after pressure from amateur genealogists, the 1911 Census was made available online in 2009,
and it's providing Gareth with a very clear picture of the social status of the Wren family.
It's telling us that they've been married for about two years,
so that ties in with what we expected to see.
The father is 24, the mother is 22.
He's a straw carter and they're living in a one-bedroom house, in 1911, so it's a start.
The young Wren family were living in Romford.
The town today is a bustling urban environment but 100 years ago
it had a very different feel, as local historian, Brian Evans, explains.
Romford was a small town with that market which was on Wednesdays.
People came in from 20 miles around but all round the town was green, open fields.
As I say, if you were a straw carter in Romford, you'd be going out
to farms collecting straw and piling it on the cart.
You'd deliver that from the farm to where the straw was needed.
Straw was used for all sorts of things.
I mean, a lot of people just used straw for bedding,
but it was a hard life because you had a very fixed position.
You weren't flexible in society so you were a hay carter
and that fixed you really in your relationships with all other people.
The wife would have to be so careful with the budget and they were brilliant,
women were brilliant in holding the family together
and bringing up lots of children on a very small salary.
You had to do little jobs. She had to do little things herself like perhaps taking in laundry.
So given Alfred Wren's job, it is unlikely the family would have had much spare cash.
It also looks like this family may have had a lot of mouths to feed.
Following the information from the census, Gareth is now looking at the marriage records.
Although they've identified five children,
he is checking to see if they married and if there are any more.
They've been born over a period of, well 1911 to 1925, so...
Half the search I'm only looking for a couple and then as they increase,
you get more and more names to look for at the same time.
And the names just keep on coming.
What's your oldest child?
Ivy H. We've got a Frederick W.
They now have 13 children on the tree.
Neil knows that there's every possibility that these youngsters are Alfred and Rosetta's.
The mother we know is meant to have been born around about 1889.
The last birth is in 1931.
It is perfectly possible in that time for a lady to have children
up to the age of 42 and indeed after the age of 42.
So from the oldest, we have one in 1911, 1912, '15, '16,
'17, '19, '20, '21, '25, the deceased in '29 and then the final one in '31.
So they're all at last nine months apart so again, perfectly possible all to be in the same family.
They really need to speak to someone who might be able to verify the family tree.
Case Manager, David Pacifico, thinks he has the answer.
We've got a possible brother of Kenneth Wren called Clifford Wren.
If it's right, he's living in East London.
Born in 1931, he is the youngest of the family and is Kenneth's younger brother by two years.
It's a breakthrough.
At 78, not only is he a living family member but he is also an heir.
We've got no phone number, we can't phone him up or it is ex-directory.
That leaves only one option.
David decides it's time to get a mobile agent out to speak to him.
Hello, Dave Hadley.
Can you go over to East London?
It's on the case of Wren. It looks like we've got an address for a brother.
OK, I'm on my way, David.
Frasers employ a team of travelling Heir Hunters.
These skilled researchers spend their days combing the country for information and speaking to heirs.
It's a detective job, requiring oodles of patience and a large component of empathy.
Travelling Heir Hunter and Senior Researcher, Dave Hadley, is used to turning up unannounced.
Most of my visits are cold calls.
I mean the main thing really is just to put the person at ease and...
convince them that it's not a con, you know, that we're not trying to scam them.
But there's an added poignancy to approaching close kin.
Clifford Wren is just two years younger than his brother.
It's been six months since Kenneth's death and there is no way of knowing when Clifford last spoke to him.
When you contact close kin, it's not nice.
Sometimes these close kin cases shouldn't really be, what I consider, cases, you know.
We've had children, we've had parents of the deceased, you know.
It's not nice when you have to...
And I've had people break down in tears.
It's obviously going to be a hard call to make, but it's vital the team speak to Clifford.
Will this knock on the door open the lid on the Wren case...
or will Clifford know as little about Kenneth as his brother's neighbours?
The estates the Heir Hunters investigate in Britain often involve families who've lost touch.
So of all the cases that we do research in,
probably about 75 to 80% of them have some form of overseas element.
But tracing heirs in former Eastern Bloc nations can be tricky...
One European country to have suffered the full brunt
of the turbulent nature of the last century is Poland.
From the full force of the German and Russian invasions during World War II,
to a long period under communism, the Poles have experienced more than their fair share of upheaval.
Case Manager, Frances Brett, knows this more than most.
She has worked countless cases in the former Eastern Bloc country.
Polish cases are probably particularly interesting
because they pose more of a challenge from the point of view of research.
Once such case was that of Jan Olszewski who died in Halifax
on 18th April 1998 at the age of 82,
leaving an estate worth £53,000.
He had lived in this neat Victorian terrace in Halifax with his wife and companion of fifty years, Kasia.
Although the couple never had any children of their own,
they were very close to Kasia's nieces and nephews.
Kasia's niece, Sofia, who is not a blood relative of Jan, remembers her uncle whom she called "John".
He was just a really lovely, kind person,
and I think every one of us in the family adored him and liked him
and you could talk to him, you could have a laugh with him. He was just...
He was just part of... well, he was a member of our family and took a great part in our family.
The couple had met in the '50s.
Kasia was a nurse at the hospital and Jan was working as a wool weaver at that time.
They were married in 1965 and lived happily together until April 1998.
It was a tragedy when we lost him because we lost both of them within five days of one another.
My auntie died. We were all there with her...
all the nieces and Uncle John
and he took it very, very badly, obviously because they'd been together for 50 years, longer.
And then five days later, my uncle John collapsed and died.
It was tragic, very tragic how it happened
but he wasn't alone. He's never, ever been alone, he's always had
family and friends and people around him who care for him, so, you know.
We were glad we were there.
At the time it was horrific, but
at least they got a double burial and double funeral and they were together and they're still together.
Jan and Kasia were buried in a shared plot at Stoney Royd Cemetery,
but after the funeral, a surprising fact emerged.
My uncle John would never make a will
because there was twenty-something years difference between my auntie and Uncle John
and when she used to want him to make a will, for both of them to make a will,
he used to say "Oh, I'm 80 and you're 64 and I'm going to die first
"and then you can do what you want with it."
So he never would make a will and as it happened, it didn't work out like that because she died before him.
Because Jan had died after his wife,
that meant that his small fortune of £53,000 could only go to his blood relatives.
Kasia's nieces and nephews were not entitled to inherit
and as he and Kasia had had no children and he had no obvious blood relatives in the UK,
his estate found its way onto the Treasury List.
Were there any relatives in Poland entitled to inherit his cash?
He had no desire at all to go back to Poland, not even for a holiday.
We used to nag him, "get your passport and we can still go".
"Oh, go away" he says. "What do I need to go back for?"
And never, ever did he mention family, when we used to ask him
and he'd say, "Well, my mother and father are dead and I've no brothers and sisters."
When Jan Olszewski's name came up on the Treasury List, Fran believed
with Frasers' connections in Poland this was the ideal case to tackle,
but they came across an obstacle at the first hurdle.
To start with, we have the death certificate of Jan Olszewski
which shows that he was born on the 2nd of February 1914 in Poland.
Unfortunately, where somebody is born outside the UK,
no exact place of birth is shown...
only the country.
Without knowing where he was born, the team were stuck.
They would have to go back and trace Jan's movements,
hoping that this would lead them to his place of birth.
According to Sofia, her uncle came to the UK during
World War II and she remembers him telling her stories of that time.
He joined the Army when he was a very young boy.
Then all about his Army days and what he did in the Army and
how he drove vehicles in the Army and so forth.
You know, his ranks were fairly high and he was very active. He did some boxing...
I mean on the whole, he enjoyed his career in the Army, very much so.
In 1939, the Germans invaded Poland from the west...
and the Russians invaded from the east.
The attack was quick and brutal.
Those of the Polish Army that weren't captured, fled.
Jan had been to military school before the War and belonged
to the Tatra Highland Unit, which was stationed in Eastern Poland.
Somehow, he escaped to join the Polish Free Army in the UK
and after the War was over, he decided to stay on.
He never spoke of his childhood in Poland.
We know very little about...
a life what he would have had before the Army or whether he kept in touch
with his family while he was in the Army but I can't see that happening.
Jan's personal history and experiences during the War gave Fran a few areas to research.
For their searches to succeed, she needed to narrow down his place of birth,
from the whole of Poland to one area.
With a little more delving, Fran found he was born in Jedrzejow,
a small town one hour's drive north of Krakow.
The real work was about to start.
Fran contacted fellow Heir Hunter and Frasers' Polish International Manager, Krzysztof Barski.
My job I think is very necessary in Poland because in Poland
we have lots of cases where people lost their contacts completely
and they do not know, families do not know, what happened to their relatives after World War II.
And researching births and deaths in Poland is not straightforward at all.
Civil registration in Poland didn't begin until 1946
and prior to that date, all the records were those kept by the church.
Many haven't survived and those that do are in any case, by law,
not open for public investigation.
This added a new challenge to the investigation.
There are different monasteries and different organisations.
Some of them are very secret and do not allow people from outside at all.
Some of these are less strict but anyway, it's not easy to get access to the registers in the monastery.
So Krzysztof was facing a massive task ahead,
and there was still the nagging question of whether Jan had any family in Poland at all.
The priest helped me to check the registers from
the beginning of the 20th century and unfortunately we couldn't find the birth record of the deceased.
Every year, the Heir Hunters tackle countless cases that still remain a mystery.
Currently, 3,000 names drawn from across the country are on the Treasury's Unsolved Case list.
Their assets will be kept for up to 30 years in the hope that eventually
someone will remember and come forward to claim their inheritance.
With the estates valued at anything from £5,000 to millions of pounds,
it's just possible you could be entitled to one of these unclaimed estates.
Mary Devlin died in Leeds on 20th January 2004.
Was Mary a friend or neighbour of yours?
Could you even be related to her and entitled to her legacy?
Linda Susan Jamieson passed away on 11th October 2006 in Sheffield.
So far, every attempt to find her rightful heir has failed.
If no relatives can be found, her money will go to the government, but could it be meant for you?
With all these estates laying unclaimed every year,
your information could help millions of pounds reach its rightful heirs.
In London, the team at Frasers are investigating the case of Kenneth Wren,
who died alone in Goodmayes Hospital in Essex in October 2008 at the age of 79.
Kenneth seems to have been quite reclusive.
None of his neighbours recall him, but incredibly, the team have found
a possible 12 brothers and sisters for him, including one brother still living in Romford.
Senior Researcher, Dave Hadley, is on his way to see him.
The name of the person that they want me to see is Clifford Wren,
who would be a brother of the deceased
and they've given me the full details of the family tree
and it would seem that there's quite a few brothers and sisters.
Clifford Wren is the younger brother of Kenneth by only two years.
Dave is hoping that he might be able to confirm the family tree
and also that he'll want Frasers to work on his behalf.
It's 11.30 and Dave Hadley has arrived at Clifford's home in Ilford.
-Is it Mr Wren?
Hello there. My name is David Hadley.
I'm a representative of Fraser & Fraser, we're probate researchers.
Born in 1931, Clifford is the youngest of the Wren family
and lives just three miles from Kenneth's sheltered accommodation.
Does he know that his brother, Kenneth, is dead?
Right. What do you know about your brothers and sisters?
Are you in touch with them at all?
-And who's that?
-Kenneth is that?
OK. Well, when was the last time you saw Kenneth?
Ooh, years ago.
-Are you close?
OK. Well, I've got to tell you he's passed away.
-He's died then?
-Yeah, he passed away.
He passed away in...
2008, October last year.
-It would seem that,
from what you're telling me, that you're his only surviving brother?
Are you all right?
Do you want to sit down?
A bit of a shock, isn't it?
OK. Are you all right?
-Are you going to be all right?
-Yeah, I'll be all right.
'It's never easy and there's never an easy way of telling somebody
'that a close member of the family has died but...'
he seemed to take it OK.
He'd obviously not seen his brother for some time
but even so, it's still a shock and it's still upsetting,
but, you know, I find that
the best way of doing this is not to beat around the bush, you know,
and just try to break it to them as,
sort of, sympathetically as possible.
Just to let you know,
it's your dad's brother who's passed away.
Even with his son's help, Clifford is struggling to come to terms with the news.
It's obviously, you know, taken him obviously by surprise.
Now I'm the last one of the family.
It's one of them things.
The last time I saw him was...
about eight years.
Last time because...
I was at Ilford with my daughter,
and we walked up to the bus stop,
and she spotted him at first and...
he just waved and walked on, you know.
Clifford has agreed to sign with Frasers.
He is the last of 13 brothers and sisters
and so will share the inheritance with all of their children.
He's a little bit sketchy about his brothers and sisters.
Some of the names are different,
-because there's such big age gaps between them, I think.
Right, that was Dave Hadley.
He's been in to see brother Clifford.
He knew very little about the deceased at all.
Didn't think he had children, had a lady who was on the scene for a while
but he doesn't know if they ever married or not, so nothing there.
One of the things he could confirm is that quite a few of the Wren clan are in the Romford area.
He's given us two possible phone numbers
on Gladys' stem which is the best bit to probably get information from.
Kenneth's big sister, Gladys, was 12 years older than him.
She had two children - Maureen and Michael.
Because they are Kenneth's niece and nephew, they will be heirs.
Neil has tracked down Maureen's number.
'Your mother, I think, was one of 13 children in total.
'Right, I think it all pretty much ties up with what we have or what we're sort of rumoured on,
'which is good, because it's just when we look for stuff,
'you find stuff and you think it looks right and then you don't know.'
'It's very nice to talk to you, Maureen, and I'll get a letter out to you today.'
'Take care. Bye.'
Great! So that was definitely worth it. That was Maureen who is going to be a beneficiary on this.
She's a niece of Kenneth.
She's actually been able to confirm everything.
She knew the deceased, knew his old address,
and knew he had moved into a home.
Value-wise, it's probably still gonna be small.
We've got nothing to indicate there's going to be any value in it at all.
Just eight years younger than her uncle, Maureen remembered
a very different Kenneth to the recluse he had become.
She described him as "the life and soul of the party in his youth".
The phone call has also thrown light on the family history.
In the '30s, Kenneth's father, Alfred, was working as a dock worker
and his mother, Rosetta, began working as a nurse.
Life was tough for the family, not least because over the first
23 years of their marriage, they had 13 children...
two of which died in infancy.
Kenneth and his brother, Clifford, were the last of a huge clan.
In all likelihood, we will have the best part of twenty beneficiaries
and we only have £5,000 to distribute between them, so they're not going to get a huge amount of money.
However, Neil is a little surprised at the rift between Kenneth and younger brother, Clifford.
In this case, Kenneth was the second youngest.
He was probably closest to his one brother who is alive still, which is Clifford.
Really, as people get into the later years of their life and in this case the beneficiaries
seem to have known that Kenneth was still alive until fairly recently,
you would probably have expected them to know a little bit more about him, maybe even his last address.
There was a rumour that he lived there for 16 years,
so, it's a little bit shocking that they haven't kept in touch.
Kenneth may have withdrawn from his family, but the news of his modest legacy
has brought back family connections long since forgotten.
The Wren case is a prime example of how families can lose touch,
even when they live practically next door...
but the case of Olszewski is one where the Heir Hunters had to look
to a country over 1,000 miles from Britain to even find out if the deceased had any family at all!
Jan Olszewski lived in Britain for the majority of his 82 years.
He never really spoke of having any family in Poland to his niece, Sofia, seen here at her wedding.
Never, ever did he mention of family when we used to ask him and he'd say,
"Well, my mother and father are dead and I've no brothers and sisters".
So when he died just after his beloved wife, Kasia in 1989, and left no will,
it looked like all his money would go to the government.
Case Manager, Frances Brett, helped by her Polish colleague,
Krzysztof Barski, started to look for kin in Poland.
Krzysztof's first task was to look for Jan's birth records.
He made his way to Jedrzejow, the town where Jan was born.
It's a small farming community, an hour's drive north of Krakow.
Well, Jedrzejow is a small town.
Some of the citizens are farmers and own little land,
outside the town and they make a living out of it.
Some people simply go to the larger cities in the area for their jobs and some work in Jedrzejow.
The birth records he needed to access were likely to have been in one of two places.
It has one major parish and the monastery, which is also a site
in Jedrzejow but within the area of Jedrzejow.
As there is no central civil registry for births before 1946,
-Krzysztof's first port of call was to the local parish.
The priest helped me to check the registers from the beginning of the 20th century.
And unfortunately we couldn't find the birth record of the deceased.
So, no success at the parish,
time for Krzysztof to try the local monastery...
But there was a snag. Monasteries are usually very resistant to outsiders.
However, Krzysztof had an idea.
They keep pointing to us to take the priest with me.
The priest in the parish seems to be very interested in my job,
generally in genealogy,
and also it was a coincidence but his surname was Olszewski,
the same surname as our Jan Olszewski from England.
So he got more interested in it than the usual priests do and,
you know, after talking to him,
explaining to him what my job is about,
I suggested to him that it would be a good idea if he could go with me to the monastery
and talk to their friends to convince them that we are doing this for a very good reason.
Krzysztof and the priest headed to the Cistercian monastery,
which was founded in the late 12th century and has always been a big part of the local community.
It has its own church and parish.
Krzysztof was praying that the Olszewski family had christened their children here.
Krzysztof's idea had worked. After the introduction from the priest, the monks were extremely helpful.
I'm very happy that we didn't give up in the Parish of Jedrzejow because we found the birth record
of Jan Olszewski in this register of births from the beginning of the 20th century.
We found his birth record in 1916,
which is a bit different from what Jan Olszewski gave as his birth date
but the day and the month is the same, the mother's name and mother's maiden name is the same.
Two discrepancies are the birth date, actually the year, and the father's name,
but I checked in this register that there are no other Jan Olszewski than the one that we found.
So I'm 99% - right now we're 100% sure -
but at the time when I found this record, I was 99% sure that that's the right one.
Well, finding the birth record of Jan Olszewski was the turning point in my research.
When I found his birth record, I know that I'm in the right place to search
for his possible siblings. So I did the research to look for his brothers or sisters
and I found that he had five siblings altogether,
and with knowing the birth dates of his siblings, I could go in those lines and search
into their heirs, their issue,
and I was successful in finding the rest of the relatives.
Jan came from a traditional farming family and it was quite a large one.
He was in fact one of seven children born in the late 1800s and early 1900s, all in the Jedrzejow area,
four of whom had gone on to have a number of their own children.
When Fran drew up the family tree, there were 16 heirs who would inherit from their Great Uncle Jan.
Slavek Olszewski, the grandson of Jan's brother, Jozef,
remembers Jan's sisters' stories about his great uncle.
TRANSLATION: My great aunt was extremely proud of him.
My great uncle was the youngest of his siblings.
His family only had a small piece of land and typically in Polish agricultural families,
everyone was expected to stay at home and help out but despite difficult times,
they insisted on giving my uncle a good education although then he decided he wanted to join the Army.
After finishing military school, he left as an officer cadet
from the Tatra Highland Regiment
and went to fight in the War and from that point, we lost contact with him.
With no news from him, Jan's fate was a constant source of debate and speculation.
We had believed that my Great Uncle was killed in Katyn because the Tetra Highlands Regiment was stationed in
the Eastern Polish region which was invaded by the Russians in 1939.
Over a 28 day period in April 1940, in the Forest of Katyn,
the Russian Army systematically executed more than 22,000 prisoners of war,
mainly officers and men of the Polish Army.
It was comprehensive obliteration of the Polish military elite.
It was said that the bodies were twelve layers deep.
With so many slaughtered, it's easy to see how the Olszewskis
would have thought their officer brother was one of the dead.
TRANSLATION: After what we called the '1954 Political Thaw', so after the death of Stalin,
it became apparent that many officers had died in Katyn.
Later on, when they disclosed their surnames of those from Katyn
who had been exhumed, my great uncle's name didn't come up.
On the Katyn List, there wasn't an Olszewski.
There was an Olszewski as such, but not a Jan Olszewski.
But as time went by, the family were convinced that he must have died...
if not at Katyn, somewhere else.
In the 80s, they had him officially declared dead, so it was a big shock
when they heard that he had been alive and well and living in the UK.
On the one hand, this whole event has been very sad for us because
we didn't understand why my great uncle didn't get in touch for so many years,
but on the other hand, of course, we were glad to find out that he had survived the War
and didn't die in Katyn like so many other soldiers.
So the news has brought us equal amounts of joy and sadness.
And in the UK, the news came out of the blue for Kasia's niece, Sofia.
Well, it was total disbelief when we knew there was a family over in Poland.
We had no idea and nothing had ever been mentioned or said that there had been a family in Poland.
As far as we were concerned, we were his family over here.
So it came as a total shock and disbelief
and at the same time, a bit of excitement to know where was a family from him.
Jan's £53,000 estate was split between 16 Polish heirs.
Slavek's father bought a tractor with the money, but the family still wonder why he didn't return.
TRANSLATION: We were extremely surprised because, of course,
we didn't hear anything from him for so many years.
After the fall of communism, it was possible to come back again to get in touch more easily in so many ways.
Why didn't Jan make contact? Krzysztof knows that at the time it was not uncommon.
Some people after a terrible experience during World War II
decided to cut off their past. They decided not to go back
with the memories to those terrible times and to, of course,
start a new life in a foreign country is helping you to forget about your terrible past.
We'll never know Jan Olszewski's reasons for abandoning his family in Poland,
but it is clear he made a real impact on the lives of his wife, Kasia's, family in Britain.
My auntie and my Uncle John, they took me to Blackpool for day trips,
and they used to take me for a new dress or a new school blazer when my mum was poorly.
And yeah, they were part of our lives.
I'd love if the family had known him the way we had known him,
because at the end of the day,
what we've got, there's nobody, you know, nobody can erase
the memories and the treasures that we possess about them both.
For they were both lovely people, they truly were.
If you would like advice about building a family tree or making a will, go to bbc.co.uk.
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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd