Hanafy/Williams Heir Hunters


Hanafy/Williams

The Fraser and Fraser team tracks down heirs of the glamorous Joyce Hanafy, who owned a million-pound property in Putney, and ex-RAF serviceman Anthony Williams.


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Transcript


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Heir hunters track down the families of people who died without leaving a will.

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They hand over thousands of pounds to long-lost relatives

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who had no idea they were in line for a windfall.

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Could they be knocking at your door?

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On today's programme, the heir hunters track down a relative, but it leaves them uneasy.

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It should never have been a case. Something like this should never have been a case.

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And in tracing the heirs to a £1 million property,

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the researchers uncover a woman's life full of lies, glamour and espionage.

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Joyce has lived a lie,

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telling people she was 30 years younger than her real date of birth.

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And we'll have details of some of the hundreds of unclaimed estates.

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Could you be in line for a windfall?

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More than two-thirds of people die without leaving a will.

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If no obvious relatives are found, their money goes to the Government,

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and last year they made a staggering £18 million from unclaimed estates.

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That's where the heir hunters step in.

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Which is why the cousins, such as you, end up inheriting.

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There are more than 30 heir-hunting companies who make it their business to track down the rightful kin.

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In 2008, they claimed back £6.5 million for unsuspecting heirs

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who would have otherwise gone empty-handed.

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It's an amazing job we do, and it's got so much energy running through it.

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It's 7.00am at Fraser and Fraser, one of the oldest heir-hunting companies in London.

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The Treasury's list of people who have died without leaving a will has been announced.

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Heir hunters work on commission, so the first priority is to quickly work out which cases are of value

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and then assign them to teams in the office.

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It's a nursing home housing association,

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and that's unregistered, so that's going to be council of some sort.

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They've already identified a case worth £200,000 to prioritise.

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We're looking at a case of Williams, it's Anthony Alfred Edward Williams.

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He died in Bedford in '08, and I'm fairly certain

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he owns the property.

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Anthony Williams died aged 82 in his run-down house in Dunstable, Bedfordshire.

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He had an active youth as an RAF serviceman, but in his old age,

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he became more reclusive, as neighbour Caroline Hennessy recalls.

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As friendly as I tried to be, I'd put my face in his face and say, "Morning," or, "Afternoon,"

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he would look at me and look beyond me, as it were,

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and mumble something like, "Mad woman won't leave me alone."

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But you didn't get much of a response from him.

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He was happy doing his own thing.

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Although Tony appeared to be content, he was a private man and valued his independence.

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Tony wanted to be left alone.

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He didn't want to go into a home.

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He didn't want to die in hospital. He wanted to be left at home alone.

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And that's the life he chose, and that's the way he went.

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Tony never wrote a will, so his estate, including his house,

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which could be worth as much as £200,000, will all go to the Government if no heirs can be traced.

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The starting point for the heir hunters

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is to try and get hold of Tony's birth and death certificates.

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These will have details of his parents on them and possibly of other family members.

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They can then use this information to start building up a family tree,

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layer by layer, which could lead them to siblings, uncles, aunts

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or cousins, any of whom could inherit.

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But Tony's surname is not the easiest to research.

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Unfortunately, the surname is Williams.

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It's going to be pretty hard because it's very common.

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It comes out in Dunstable, which is up in Bedfordshire,

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just on the border of Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire.

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Williams is the third most common surname in the country.

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At least the team know Tony's two middle initials,

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which should make it easier to make sure they're researching the right man.

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But they could do with a few more leads to go on,

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and one of the ways they generate them is to hit the road.

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Heir-hunting doesn't just happen in the office.

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The firm have travelling employees who act as their eyes and ears up and down the country,

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doing detective work and getting their hands on key documents, and when heirs have been found,

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it's these travellers who speed over to sign them up before the other companies and get their commission.

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Case manager David Pacifico is phoning one of the company's senior researchers, Ewart Lindsay,

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to ask him to call on Tony Williams' neighbours.

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One of today's cases comes out in Dunstable.

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And, er, I've got to go and do an inquiry where the deceased used to live...

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..and see what information I can find about the deceased.

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In the office, the team are using their births, deaths and marriages records

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to build and verify Tony's family tree.

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We've just found the marriage of the parents.

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The mother is Mabel Reynolds. We're cross-referencing at the moment.

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The researchers found that Tony Williams' parents were Percy and Mabel.

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Now they can extend the search to see if he had any brothers or sisters who would be possible heirs.

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While Ewart is on his way to Tony's hometown

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and the researchers are cross-checking records,

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other members of the team are phoning Tony's neighbours.

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Just one lucky phone call could save hours of research if they get a neighbour who knew Tony well.

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I wonder whether your family knew him at all. We're trying to find his next of kin.

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No knowledge of him at all? Thank you for your time, anyway.

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I'm sorry to disturb you. Bye-bye.

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No luck for case manager Marcus, but elsewhere in the office they've come up with a lead.

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This neighbour here stated that the deceased lived alone for over 23 years

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and owned a property which is in a bad state of repair now.

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I spoke to another neighbour who was convinced he had been previously married.

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Although it's only hearsay at this stage, if Tony was married,

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his wife could be the heir, or their children, if they had any.

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But the neighbour also thinks that they separated.

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It doesn't necessarily mean that they were divorced,

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and if there isn't a valid divorce, then she would be the first heir,

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she would have the greatest entitlement.

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If Tony and his wife had separated but not divorced, under British inheritance law,

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that would mean she would still inherit

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because the spouse is always at the top of the list of potential heirs.

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Only a divorce can annul the spouse's claim to the inheritance.

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In Dunstable, Ewart is hoping to get hold of Tony's neighbours

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before they leave for work to find out what they knew about him.

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DOORBELL RINGS

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He's not having much luck.

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But just as he's about to leave, his luck changes.

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He did say that he had a sister,

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er...you know, in passing conversation.

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I think she lived round

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-the Reading or Oxford area.

-OK, all right.

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It's a coup for Ewart.

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After spouses, if there are no surviving children or parents,

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siblings are the next in line to inherit.

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So if Tony's sister has outlived Tony's wife, she would be entitled to his entire estate.

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But Ewart isn't the first to get the news.

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They've already picked this up at the office and pipped him to the post.

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We've found the birth of a sister of the deceased, which is interesting news.

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Her name is Margaret. It's extremely important to track down the sister, a very close relation.

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There are now two very close potential heirs.

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But who will inherent Tony Williams' £200,000 estate - his wife or his sister?

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Although heir hunters aim to find relatives as quickly as possible to beat their competitors,

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the more complex cases can leave them foxed for weeks or months before they get solved.

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Joyce Hanafy's was one such case.

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This case of Hanafy was particularly hard,

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and every little breakthrough helped show us a picture.

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As the researchers slowly unravelled the story of her life,

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they discovered a glamorous woman who was involved in the performing arts, modelling and even espionage.

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But Joyce's circumstances at the end of her life were very different from those in her youth.

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She died in 2006 in a nursing home in Wandsworth, London.

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No-one there knew of any family to claim her estate

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or organise her funeral, and so it was overseen by the council

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Shirley Heaver and Wendy Allison work at the nursing home where Joyce died.

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She was a very private lady, um...

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She told us that she did ballet.

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Whether she taught it or...danced it, we don't know.

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She only wanted to tell you what she wanted to.

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And you would try to pump her, but she'd clam up.

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We didn't think she had any family, um...

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She sort of really was a recluse, that's how I would have taken her.

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She had a lodger...but that was it.

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But this private woman had several secrets,

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not least the fact that she owned a very valuable property.

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She lived in Putney in a £1 million house

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that was actually falling down around her.

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And, like, we was like, "My God."

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Couldn't believe it!

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Joyce didn't leave a will, and as no-one knew of any family,

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her £1 million house went onto the Treasury's unclaimed estates list.

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Straightaway, Neil Fraser knew this was a case they had to crack.

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When we're dealing with an estate advertised at £1 million,

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it means we have to be on our A game.

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One little slip could mean a fortune to the firm.

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It could make or break our year.

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Neil set about working up the Hanafy family tree, starting with Joyce herself.

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The date of death is in 2006, the death is registered in Kingston,

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and when we've got the certificate, it clearly says her date of birth is 11th July 1952.

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Now Neil knew when Joyce was born, but if he could find her birth certificate,

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he would know the name of her parents.

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When we look on the birth indexes, there isn't a corresponding birth for her.

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At this point, Neil decided it was time to up the ante and get more manpower on the case.

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There are only a few Hanafys in the country in the early 1900s,

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so finding any instance of it could provide a clue.

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Because we're working a good name, we're listing everything.

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Every occurrence of the surname, we'll write it down, we'll take it out.

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We'll be looking at deaths, marriages, births all at the same time.

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On a case of this size, we'd stick the whole office on it.

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We'd have quite a lot of staff all researching and all doing their own little bit of research.

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The £1 million property that the office was working to find heirs for

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had been in the Hanafy family for 60 years.

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Despite its value, Joyce's wealth was tied up in its bricks and mortar.

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She had no income to maintain the house, and it fell into disrepair.

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What little money came in was from lodgers like Martin Geoff, who moved into the Putney house in 1995.

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On occasions, I said to her that it would make sense for her

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to actually considering selling up and moving to another part of London

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where she could start again as a landlady

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with better conditions and have a better income, and she would simply not entertain this.

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So the house was a part of her. It was as if she was

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on kind of an elastic band

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that she could only go so far and it would reel her back in again.

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Joyce's insistence on remaining in the house with no means of maintaining it

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led to its eventual dilapidation, and it is now uninhabitable.

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Andrew Fraser is at the property for an inspection.

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One of the partners in the company, Andrew trained as a surveyor,

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and his role in the company is to represent heirs in the sales of properties and other assets.

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We're in Putney, in a very desirable part of London,

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where this property is surrounded by multimillion-pound homes.

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And it's particularly sad when we come and look through a house,

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and we see that someone has all this paper wealth tied up in their assets,

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but they have no money at all to spend on living and enjoy life with.

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I think in this room we just clear it up, make it safe.

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Get the gas cut off.

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Although the house is less valuable than others on the street

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because of ruinous state,

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it will still represent a huge windfall to any heirs once it has been sold.

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In the office, the team had been researching every instance of the name Hanafy throughout the 1900s.

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It was such a rare name that each occurrence could provide a clue to finding members of Joyce's family.

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But they hit a stumbling block when it came to Joyce herself.

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On the screen here, we have a Joyce A Hanafy,

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the birth for her, but that birth is in 1922.

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The dates didn't match.

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Joyce's death certificate stated she died aged 54, but the birth record

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they had found for a Joyce Hanafy said she was born 30 years earlier.

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Could it be people believed this glamorous woman was 30 years younger than she really was?

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Although we occasionally get variations in the age of the deceased,

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the date of birth, and I've known of two, three, four, maybe even five years' difference

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from the date of birth on the death certificate to the real date of birth.

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No-one has ever heard of anyone being registered 30 years out.

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I was pretty convinced we've got the right birth.

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Everything seemed to fit.

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There was births around, deaths around. Everything seems to tie up

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being a typing error on the death certificate,

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and instead of saying 1922, it says 1952.

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But there was no such luck for Neil.

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This turned out to be far from a straightforward typing error.

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We got to speak to the nursing home where Joyce passed away.

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Now, they were convinced she had told everyone she was only 54 years of age

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and the 1952 date of birth was actually the correct one.

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So it wasn't a typing error at all,

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and this suddenly...our heart sunk.

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We thought we'd been working the wrong family, we had put 2 and 2 together, we'd made 22.

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It all seemed to fit, but there was something wrong.

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As the nursing home had confirmed that Joyce was in her 50s, Neil was stuck.

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There was only one instance of a Joyce Hanafy,

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but no-one could understand why the records of her birth year were so different.

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Unless they could make the dates tie up, the £1 million property would remain unclaimed.

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To move the case on, they started researching Joyce's parents.

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Joyce's father was doctor.

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I don't know much about him at all.

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I understood that he had been in uniform, in the Army perhaps.

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But she never really went into any details about that.

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Doctors are relatively easy to research for heir hunters, because in order to practise,

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it's a legal requirement that their details are kept on record in the medical registers.

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So Neil looked for a Dr Hanafy who could have been Joyce's father.

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In this book here from 1921, it has the entry for John Zaky Hanafy.

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With this being from 1921, it's only a year before the birth certificate we have of Joyce.

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So we have enough evidence to prove that John Zaky Hanafy is the father.

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He's in the right place at the right time to have a child called Joyce.

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So everything ties up with this being the right gentleman.

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We can trace his movements back around the country,

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enabling us to say that he is the same gentleman who also lived down in Putney in southeast London

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and it's the same family as what we're trying to look for.

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The medical journals prove that Dr John Zaky Hanafy lived in the same district as Joyce.

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They also indicated that he had an outstanding career as a doctor.

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It also has his OBE in here.

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In 1921, he had an OBE, and he was only qualified in 1914,

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so he's done something quite dramatic in those six or seven years since he qualified.

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John Zaky Hanafy emigrated from Egypt to London to study medicine in the early 1900s.

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He had only just sat his medical exams at the Royal College of Surgeons

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when World War One broke out.

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During the Great War, he worked at the King George military hospital,

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which was on London's South Bank, dealing with victims of horrendous trench warfare.

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Half of fighting soldiers were injured, maimed or shell-shocked, and 10% died.

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It must have been a terrifying training ground for a young surgeon,

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but one where he could have made an enormous difference.

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John Zaky Hanafy was awarded an OBE for his services as a surgeon in 1920.

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All the dates, records and locations the team had found were pointing to the fact that they had found

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the right family, apart from one, Joyce Hanafy's death certificate which said she was born in 1952.

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This date seemed to contradict everything they were finding.

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In an attempt to get to the bottom of it,

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senior researcher Bob Barratt went down to Joyce's neighbourhood in Putney.

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I called on the neighbours of Joyce to see if I could find anything out about her or relatives.

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They all described her in much the same way, as a bit of an eccentric, a bit of a loner,

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altogether quite a strange woman.

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No-one knew much about her family, but they did describe her as being in her mid-70s.

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This news was a godsend for Neil.

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The neighbours all thought that Joyce Hanafy was much older than 54,

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which strengthened his belief that the date on her death certificate was wrong.

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Everything started to make sense, and I started to have more confidence

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that we were researching the right family.

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Joyce was in fact 84 years old when she died and had disguised her true date of birth to everyone.

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The news came as a big shock to Shirley and Wendy at the nursing home.

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-She had a very young face, didn't she?

-Yeah, she did.

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Unbelievable, honestly.

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-I remember saying, "She's younger than me."

-Yeah.

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I mean, we first was told she was in her 50s.

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I would have said...60s, late 60s.

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She had lovely skin.

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Well, finding out that Joyce was in her 80s...is really quite amazing.

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Joyce had managed to convince nearly everyone she was 30 years younger than she was,

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which explained why her death certificate had the wrong birth date on.

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Usually, when we're dealing with official documents,

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we find that people don't lie, that people tell the truth, but there may be mistakes on them.

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It's less common for people to lie their whole life about their age.

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Joyce has lived a lie, telling people she was 30 years younger than her real date of birth.

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That's a huge time period.

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And she must have been a good-looking woman to get away with that for so long.

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A major obstacle to solving the case had been removed,

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but the research would throw up even more surprises - espionage, fighter pilots and a trip to Egypt.

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For every case that is solved, there are still those that stubbornly remain a mystery.

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Currently, over 3,000 names drawn from across the country are on the Treasury's unsolved case list.

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Their assets will be kept for up to 30 years in the hope

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that eventually someone will remember and come forward to claim their inheritance.

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With estates valued at anything from 5,000 to millions of pounds,

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the rightful heirs are out there somewhere.

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Margaret Sullivan, of Reading in Berkshire, died in April 2007.

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Does her name bring memories flooding back?

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Could she even be a distant relative of yours?

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Spinster Olive Thurston died in Boston in Lincolnshire in December 2006.

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Over two years later, her estate is still unclaimed.

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Do you know anything about her?

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Could you even be related and missing out on your inheritance?

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Fraser and Fraser have been working on the case of Tony Williams.

0:23:450:23:49

It's still only 9.00am,

0:23:490:23:51

but they've learned from a neighbour that Tony had a wife who may still be alive.

0:23:510:23:55

They also know he had a sister who, after his wife,

0:23:550:23:58

would be next in line to inherit the estate of £200,000.

0:23:580:24:03

But so far, they haven't traced either of them.

0:24:030:24:06

We need to find the wife's name and then check to see if there is a divorce.

0:24:080:24:14

At the same time, obviously, we're looking for the sister to see if she was married.

0:24:140:24:18

And we'll also be looking at

0:24:180:24:21

near kin of that, cousins and so on.

0:24:210:24:25

Gareth has been given the job of finding Tony's extended family.

0:24:250:24:29

He's using the census, which is a record made every ten years

0:24:290:24:32

of all the people who live in UK households.

0:24:320:24:36

It should reveal whether Tony's parents had brothers and sisters.

0:24:360:24:39

While he does this, David is trying to find Tony's wife.

0:24:390:24:43

We've now found the deceased's marriage.

0:24:450:24:48

If the inquiry is right and she walked out,

0:24:480:24:51

we have to find her and find out whether they're divorced,

0:24:510:24:54

if she's still alive. She could still be married to him.

0:24:540:24:58

It's been confirmed that Tony married a Ruby Leno in 1954,

0:24:580:25:03

but they still need to find out whether she is alive.

0:25:030:25:06

Gareth's search is also producing results.

0:25:060:25:08

There's an uncle of the deceased called Lewis...

0:25:080:25:14

..so I'm hoping... I've got his marriage and I've got a couple of kids.

0:25:150:25:19

And hopefully we'll be able to get the first cousin up to date, and we can speak to them.

0:25:210:25:27

Now the investigation could go in many directions.

0:25:310:25:34

The team not only know that Tony had a wife and a sister,

0:25:340:25:38

but they've also found an uncle and three potential first cousins on his mother's side.

0:25:380:25:44

Because we're such a large firm as we are

0:25:460:25:49

and we have so many researchers working on stuff,

0:25:490:25:52

we can actually work the wife of the deceased, looking for kin off that,

0:25:520:25:56

the sister of the deceased, looking for nephews and nieces,

0:25:560:25:59

all near kin, as well as working the cousins, so we're working on three different prongs at the moment.

0:25:590:26:04

Hopefully, one of them will come through.

0:26:040:26:06

One of them might be about to.

0:26:060:26:08

David Pacifico has some breaking news.

0:26:080:26:12

We've now traced a marriage for the sister, and it looks like

0:26:120:26:16

she's still alive, and we've got an address and phone number,

0:26:160:26:19

so I'm now going to try the call to her and hope I'm not too late.

0:26:190:26:24

Finding Tony's sister is a breakthrough,

0:26:260:26:28

but as his details were on the unclaimed estates list,

0:26:280:26:32

it's possible that she hasn't had news of his death, so the phone call may not be an easy one.

0:26:320:26:38

We're trying to trace a Margaret Rush whose maiden name would be Williams.

0:26:380:26:42

And hopefully you might be the daughter of a Percy Williams?

0:26:430:26:47

Now, I believe, and I'm sorry to say this, but you had a brother, I think.

0:26:470:26:53

Right. I'm sorry to say unfortunately he has since passed away.

0:26:530:26:59

David has had to break the news of Tony's death.

0:27:000:27:04

It's a call the heir hunters dread, and none of them envy him.

0:27:040:27:08

Because we don't know the relationship between the deceased

0:27:080:27:12

and the near kin, whether that's a sister or a child or a wife even,

0:27:120:27:17

because we don't know the relationship or what happened,

0:27:170:27:20

why they've lost contact, it's difficult for us to approach it

0:27:200:27:24

or know how to approach it, so we just have to be as gentle and considerate as possible.

0:27:240:27:31

You never know how someone's going to react, it's very difficult.

0:27:320:27:38

David now has to find out whether Tony's wife is alive or divorced

0:27:380:27:42

to work out whether his sister Margaret will inherit.

0:27:420:27:46

The thing we're also trying to identify, that he was married, I believe?

0:27:460:27:50

Oh, she passed away?

0:27:510:27:53

Was that Ruby at all? Right.

0:27:570:28:01

Margaret has revealed that Tony and his wife were in fact happily married,

0:28:010:28:06

but that she died 35 years ago and there were no children,

0:28:060:28:10

which means Margaret is the sole heir to the £200,000 estate.

0:28:100:28:14

But she was closer to her brother than David expected.

0:28:140:28:19

Thank you very much. Bye-bye.

0:28:190:28:21

Oh, that was... She got a birthday card back in February from her brother.

0:28:230:28:27

Can you believe? Yeah.

0:28:300:28:32

Didn't see much of him, but had a birthday card.

0:28:320:28:36

Tony was in touch with Margaret just two months before he died, yet the various authorities

0:28:370:28:43

who are responsible for making the arrangements

0:28:430:28:46

after a body is discovered all failed to track her down.

0:28:460:28:50

As a result, seven months have gone by without her knowing of his death.

0:28:500:28:54

David Pacifico is astonished.

0:28:540:28:58

She got a birthday card from her brother in February.

0:28:580:29:01

When did he die?

0:29:010:29:03

April.

0:29:030:29:05

So she knows exactly where he lived. The wife dies 35 years ago.

0:29:050:29:09

Dies 35 years ago?

0:29:090:29:11

Now the heir has been confirmed, the office need to send someone

0:29:110:29:15

to see her who can handle the case with care.

0:29:150:29:18

Ewart is a sensitive guy, can be rather sensitive,

0:29:180:29:22

so hopefully, you know...we'll see how it goes.

0:29:220:29:25

Often you are the first, you know, person to give them that shocking news

0:29:290:29:35

that their brother has died or their mother has died, you know,

0:29:350:29:40

and, yes, you're seeing that initial shock on their face straight off, you know.

0:29:400:29:46

It's a... It can be difficult at times.

0:29:480:29:51

The case is coming to a close, and now the team just have to confirm

0:29:510:29:55

the facts they've learned from David's phone call to Tony's sister.

0:29:550:30:00

What did the deceased's sister say about...Ruby?

0:30:000:30:05

Ruby died definitely 35 years ago, and she said she's buried in Slip End Cemetery in Dunstable.

0:30:050:30:12

It's only 10.00am.

0:30:120:30:14

As the rest of the office continues to be a hive of activity while they work other cases,

0:30:140:30:19

David is reflecting on how the system failed for his.

0:30:190:30:24

It should never have been a case.

0:30:240:30:26

Something like this should never have been a case.

0:30:260:30:29

I mean, for her to get a birthday card in February

0:30:290:30:32

and then not know he's died, I can't figure this one out.

0:30:320:30:36

So she's going to be in his address book.

0:30:360:30:39

-Yeah.

-Probably under "sister".

0:30:390:30:41

It should never have been a case.

0:30:410:30:43

It's so ridiculous that somebody like us would have to come along and tell her several months later.

0:30:430:30:48

Ewart has been in a delicate meeting with Margaret, Tony Williams' sister,

0:30:500:30:55

who has been taking in the news of her brother's death.

0:30:550:30:58

Even though she's still in a state of shock

0:31:030:31:07

about finding out about the news about her brother dying, but, er...

0:31:070:31:11

at least she signed, and we'll take care of it for her.

0:31:110:31:15

After Ewart's visit, Margaret is left to reflect on the morning's unexpected news.

0:31:210:31:26

It took me a little while to...to...what he was on about.

0:31:260:31:32

And then it suddenly occurred to me, and I said, "Tony Williams is my brother."

0:31:320:31:37

And so I said, "What has happened to him? Where...

0:31:400:31:44

"Is there something wrong?"

0:31:440:31:46

and he said, "I'm afraid your brother has died."

0:31:460:31:49

Well, it was just like something sort of being, you know...

0:31:500:31:54

I really was taken aback.

0:31:540:31:58

She and Tony were once close.

0:31:580:32:01

When his wife died, and she was only 47,

0:32:030:32:08

we became very close then, because he would come here and we used to go on holiday together.

0:32:080:32:15

And he really did enjoy himself.

0:32:150:32:18

Over time, Tony grew more solitary, and it became difficult for Margaret to stay in touch.

0:32:220:32:29

He had his phone removed, which really made me cross

0:32:290:32:33

because I couldn't contact him, and I thought that was so silly.

0:32:330:32:40

And getting to the age that he was and not having a telephone was quite absurd.

0:32:400:32:45

He contacted me on somebody's pay phone,

0:32:450:32:48

and he always used to only have a certain amount of money,

0:32:480:32:54

so the conversation couldn't go on too long

0:32:540:32:57

and I wouldn't ask too many questions! SHE LAUGHS

0:32:570:33:02

Tony's isolation delayed news of his death reaching Margaret.

0:33:020:33:06

But now that it has, his £200,000 estate will go to her.

0:33:060:33:11

I might buy a decent bottle of something and toast Tony.

0:33:110:33:15

He'd agree with that.

0:33:150:33:17

SHE LAUGHS

0:33:170:33:20

Although Tony chose solitude towards the end of his life,

0:33:220:33:25

he was remembered by his sister and ultimately reconnected with her thanks to the heir hunters.

0:33:250:33:30

It only took a few hours' work to solve Tony Williams' case,

0:33:370:33:42

but it took the heir hunters several weeks to complete Joyce Hanafy's.

0:33:420:33:46

Andrew Fraser assessed her £1 million house before it was sold.

0:33:460:33:51

Well, what I did locate in the house were these photographs of what would appear to be

0:33:510:33:56

a very glamorous potential lifestyle she lived in London in the 1960s.

0:33:560:34:03

And again we have some earlier photographs of what would appear to be Joyce on stage as a dancer.

0:34:030:34:10

The items in Joyce's house paint a picture of a woman who led an exciting life,

0:34:140:34:18

performing ballet, modelling and working in the nightclubs of Soho.

0:34:180:34:22

It seemed that Joyce was no shrinking violet.

0:34:220:34:25

The team had found records for Joyce's father.

0:34:320:34:35

Now the search was on for her mother.

0:34:350:34:37

Once they had found both parents, they would be able to look for siblings,

0:34:370:34:41

nephews or nieces who could inherit.

0:34:410:34:44

But anxious to get ahead of the game, Neil was taking a guess on a Hanafy he'd found in London.

0:34:440:34:49

In this case, I tried to cut out a corner, I tried to beat that process,

0:34:550:34:59

because we'd already identified a death,

0:34:590:35:01

a death of a Florence Mary Hanafy in Wandsworth,

0:35:010:35:04

and I was fairly confident that was going to be the mother.

0:35:040:35:08

Neil thought he'd stumbled on Joyce's mother.

0:35:080:35:10

Florence South married a Hanafy and died in the same area as Joyce.

0:35:100:35:16

All he had to do was check Joyce's father's marriage record to see if he'd married a Florence.

0:35:160:35:21

Although I thought I'd cracked it, I thought I'd identified the mother and wasn't I clever,

0:35:210:35:27

suddenly we came across a little hiccup.

0:35:270:35:30

When we had now found the marriage of the Hanafy to South,

0:35:300:35:34

it cross-checked to an Agnes, an Agnes M, and Agnes is not Florence.

0:35:340:35:40

Neil had come across another obstacle.

0:35:400:35:42

Who did marry Dr Hanafy, Florence South or Agnes South?

0:35:420:35:47

What we have here is a census, this is for Bromley in Kent, and on here we have a South family.

0:35:470:35:55

The father is Henry, and down here we have a Florence M South,

0:35:550:35:58

and above that, her older sister is an Agnes M South.

0:35:580:36:01

And suddenly stuff started making a bit more sense,

0:36:010:36:05

and we thought we had two sisters marrying the same gentleman.

0:36:050:36:09

Joyce's father Dr John Hanafy had married Agnes South, and together they had Joyce.

0:36:090:36:16

When Agnes died 20 years later, he then re-married her younger sister Florence within a year,

0:36:170:36:22

when Joyce was 14.

0:36:220:36:25

Now they had established Joyce's parents, the team could build the family tree.

0:36:250:36:30

They found that she had a brother called John,

0:36:300:36:33

who was in the RAF during the Second World War, but like many pilots, sadly, he didn't survive.

0:36:330:36:38

John Theodor, however, passed away in 1943.

0:36:380:36:42

He was in the Air Force as a flying officer and was shot down.

0:36:420:36:46

So suddenly, within a ten-year period, Joyce's life has gone...through turmoil.

0:36:460:36:52

Her mother's passed away, her father's remarried.

0:36:520:36:54

Her brother, who she must have been close to after her mother passed away, has also been killed.

0:36:540:37:00

From this ideal lifestyle she probably had in a pretty well-to do family, with a good occupation,

0:37:000:37:06

quite a bit of money coming in through her father,

0:37:060:37:09

suddenly her whole world has been turned upside down.

0:37:090:37:12

Since Joyce's brother had died without children, the next stage was to look for uncles and aunts.

0:37:120:37:18

While Neil broadened the search, he came across some startling records.

0:37:180:37:23

We've identified a record for a Joyce Amelia Hanafy.

0:37:230:37:28

Quite clearly it says here born on 1/6/1922, so we know that's our lady.

0:37:280:37:34

So we've got a record here, and that is a personnel file

0:37:340:37:38

from the Second World War.

0:37:380:37:40

And it's from the SOE, so that's the Special Operations Executive.

0:37:400:37:45

Now, these are the wartime equivalent of the current MI6.

0:37:450:37:50

The Special Operations Executive trained people for World War Two resistance work.

0:37:500:37:57

Joyce had been approached to be a spy.

0:37:570:38:00

Roderick Bailey is a historian and an SOE expert.

0:38:000:38:03

The Special Operations Executive, SOE, was set up in 1940

0:38:050:38:10

to carry out sabotage and encourage resistance behind enemy lines.

0:38:100:38:14

It was pretty small to begin with, but by the end of the war,

0:38:140:38:17

it had grown into quite a formidable organisation.

0:38:170:38:21

Some of the deeds and actions it carried out

0:38:210:38:23

were amongst the most daring and dramatic carried out by Allied Forces.

0:38:230:38:27

In 1944, when Joyce was approached, Britain had been in the grip of war for nearly five years.

0:38:270:38:35

The Government called on everyone who could contribute to the war effort to do so,

0:38:350:38:38

whether by fighting on the frontline or helping on the home front.

0:38:380:38:42

But some of the most dangerous work was behind enemy lines.

0:38:420:38:46

At the point that Joyce was recruited as a trainee agent, we know that she was 21 years old.

0:38:460:38:52

She had finished at Durham University and was undergoing teacher training.

0:38:520:38:56

And also it is apparent that her command of French

0:38:560:38:59

and her intelligence had impressed someone enough to give her a tap on the shoulder,

0:38:590:39:03

and significantly she seems to have been under consideration by SOE

0:39:030:39:07

to be an agent to be dropped into occupied France.

0:39:070:39:09

The SOE sent over 400 agents to occupied France

0:39:110:39:16

to undertake high-risk missions where they were incredibly vulnerable.

0:39:160:39:20

Few women were taken on, and as with all agents, they were carefully vetted.

0:39:200:39:26

Joyce's file has been opened for the first time in over 60 years.

0:39:260:39:30

The file shows that Joyce Hanafy's involvement with SOE was brief.

0:39:320:39:38

It seems that she did not seem suitable to the assessors

0:39:380:39:42

as an agent in occupied France.

0:39:420:39:44

The file makes a number of harsh comments about her character.

0:39:440:39:47

It says, "She is spoilt, affected, greedy for admiration and vain and superficial."

0:39:470:39:52

I think it's important to acknowledge the fact that she got this far,

0:39:520:39:56

that she was considered as an agent and that she underwent tests.

0:39:560:40:00

Also, of course, that she was, as the assessors remark here,

0:40:000:40:03

that she was "intelligent, had a retentive memory and has adequate courage."

0:40:030:40:08

Even to be considered was quite something.

0:40:080:40:12

Although the researchers were finding out more and more about

0:40:120:40:15

Joyce's extraordinary life, they had yet to find heirs to her £1m estate.

0:40:150:40:21

So far, they had found her parents and also her brother, who died without children.

0:40:210:40:26

The next stage was to research her Egyptian grandfather

0:40:260:40:29

and see if he had other children who would be Joyce's uncles and aunts.

0:40:290:40:34

We get his occupation from the marriage certificates, of which John has two, the one to the mother,

0:40:340:40:40

Agnes, and then the one to the aunt of the deceased, or the stepmother, Florence, several years later.

0:40:400:40:47

On these marriages, the occupation is significant.

0:40:470:40:51

On the second one he's a landowner, and the other one says he's a judge,

0:40:510:40:57

and a judge is an occupation where there are records about,

0:40:570:41:00

and suddenly I was convinced I would be able to find the family if only I could go to Egypt.

0:41:000:41:06

Neil's research in Egypt paid off.

0:41:060:41:09

Joyce's grandfather had three children - John, Ismail and Amina.

0:41:090:41:15

Four of Amina's grandchildren who are still alive are heirs.

0:41:150:41:19

They would be Joyce's first cousins once removed.

0:41:190:41:22

When Neil met them, they were all fascinated to find out more about this long-lost branch of the family.

0:41:220:41:29

All they knew of the father was that he'd gone to England to study medicine

0:41:290:41:33

and that was the last they'd heard of him, he'd never come home.

0:41:330:41:37

And indeed, just having this one person who had gone off,

0:41:370:41:40

who they thought was the black sheep almost of their family

0:41:400:41:44

was something they didn't want to talk about until they worked out

0:41:440:41:48

that their black sheep had lived an incredible life, receiving an OBE from the Queen

0:41:480:41:55

and his work with the British Army in the Medical Corps

0:41:550:42:01

was something they are now immensely proud of.

0:42:010:42:04

Neil found four Egyptian heirs who will all have a share in Joyce's £1 million estate.

0:42:040:42:10

I solved a case which, from the onset, no-one thought would be solvable.

0:42:120:42:19

They didn't think we would ever be finding beneficiaries.

0:42:190:42:22

Not only that, but we're talking of an estate worth a huge amount of money.

0:42:220:42:27

So, incredibly good feeling about solving the case.

0:42:270:42:30

Neil's work has ensured that he not only has earned a valuable commission for the company,

0:42:300:42:35

but on a more personal level that Joyce's heirs in Egypt have regained a part

0:42:350:42:39

of their family history that they thought they'd lost forever and one in which they can take pride.

0:42:390:42:44

If you would like advice about building a family tree or making a will, go to bbc.co.uk.

0:42:480:42:54

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:080:43:10

Email sub[email protected]

0:43:100:43:14

Anthony Williams died aged 82 in his run-down Dunstable home. An intensely private man in later life, he was once an RAF serviceman. When it comes to tracing his heirs, Fraser and Fraser has its work cut out, not least because Williams is the third most common surname in the country. As the investigation moves forward it's revealed that Anthony's sister is still alive. Why did the pair lose touch, and how will she react to the news of his death?

The extraordinary case of Joyce Hanafy takes the team into a different world. Joyce died in 2006 in a nondescript nursing home in Wandsworth, London, yet she owned a million-pound property in Putney. The team is soon immersed in a world of glamour, professional modelling and even wartime espionage. As one revelation follows another, Neil Fraser is forced to head for the backstreets of Cairo.


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