Birch/Kutner Heir Hunters


Birch/Kutner

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Today a team of Heir Hunters are searching for the beneficiaries

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to an unclaimed estate worth a quarter of a million pounds.

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They're looking for long-lost relatives who have no idea they're in line for a windfall.

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Could they be knocking at your door?

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-On today's programme...

-It's a matter of time then. It's a race.

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The Heir Hunters pull out all the stops to trace the relatives of a decorated military hero.

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He probably saved our lives.

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And the death of a Brighton woman reveals a fascinating tale of immigrant life in London's East End.

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It was a hubbub. People calling out in Yiddish, in broken English.

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Really chaotic but I would imagine very, very exciting.

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Plus - how you may be entitled to inherit some of the unclaimed estates held by the Treasury.

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Could thousand of pounds be heading your way?

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Every year in the UK, an estimated 300,000 people die without leaving a will.

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If no relatives are found, then any money that's left behind will go to the Government.

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Last year, they made £12 million from unclaimed estates.

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That's where the Heir Hunters come in.

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They make it their business to track down missing relatives and help them claim their rightful inheritance.

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I bring about a change so that the rightful assets

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go to the rightful family members and not to the state.

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This morning, at the offices of Heir Hunters Fraser & Fraser,

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the Treasury's weekly list of unclaimed estates is just in.

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At first glance, there don't seem to be any obvious high-value cases

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but partner Neil Fraser has got a good feeling about an intriguing outsider.

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We're going to have a look at the case of Brian Simon Birch.

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Slightly strange, slightly unusual in that its place of death says Malta.

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Brian Simon Birch died on 21st September 2008

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in hospital on the island of Malta, just off the south coast of Italy.

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Brian was known by his middle name, Simon, to his friends.

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Simon was very upright, tall, receding hairline,

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small moustache.

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He never ever made any contact to anybody

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so it wasn't until he actually moved in above our flat

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that we got to know Simon.

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Simon was a very military person.

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Everything about him was organised, everything had to be done under a certain regime.

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Six o'clock every morning,

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the door would open and he'd put his washing on the line on the roof

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and then at 7.20am, he always passed my front door to take his rubbish to the skip.

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I could take you from six in the morning to six at night exactly where he was, each day.

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In the office, Neil starts the investigation

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by asking an independent agent in Malta to get hold of Brian's death certificate.

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This will contain information vital to the search and until it arrives,

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all they can do is start sifting through the scores of Brian Simon Birches that show up on the records.

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The case of Birch, the chap dies I assume on holiday in Valetta in Malta,

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so certainly the death record there.

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There's only one Brian Birch on the telephone or on the electoral roll immediately.

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Tony thinks he's found a home number for the deceased in England

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so he gets straight on the phone to see if he can speak to a relative.

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Hello. Sorry to trouble you.

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Mr Birch?

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Hello, Mr Birch. Sorry to trouble you so early, sir.

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Tony wasn't expecting Mr Birch himself to pick up the phone.

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Clearly he's got the wrong family.

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And did they explain that they were trying to trace the next of kin of Brian Birch, who's died recently?

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And it seems this Mr Birch has already been contacted by rival heir-hunting firms.

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Like Neil, they must think this could be a valuable case.

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So if Frasers are going to get ahead of the competition, they need to step up a gear.

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Case Manager Dave Slee has got his team searching through

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UK birth and marriage records for any mention of a Brian S Birch.

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We know there's three births and we've eliminated one so far.

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Because we've got two possible marriages, Birch to Smith,

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so Emily's working one marriage and me and Jo are working the other.

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On this one, we've got one heir at the moment and I don't know how Emily is getting on

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but one of the two could be right, or neither. We don't know yet.

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It's a frustrating start. So far none of their leads is paying off.

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But senior researcher Alan comes on board and he's seen a case like this before.

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I had a job where the beneficiaries had moved to Malta 20 years ago.

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Have we got a Malta phone book?

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-I had a job in Malta...

-Have a look on the internet.

-Tony spoke to somebody...

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-He could've been living there for years.

-That's what I'm saying.

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If Brian did live on Malta, it's likely he retired there, which means he may have owned a property.

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And on the densely populated islands of Malta and Gozo, the average apartment sells for £200,000.

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Suddenly, this case is looking much more interesting.

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Let's do that in the library.

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See what we can get on that.

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Over their 70-year history, Frasers have built up an amazingly comprehensive library

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of directories, which can make all the difference when it comes to cracking unusual cases.

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Everything we've done so far on this Birch case is wrong.

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There's three births in this country of a Brian S and they've all been ruled out.

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What we have got is a single record of a Brian Simon Birch,

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Captain Brian Simon Birch

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of the Royal Transport Corps getting an MBE in 1976.

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Could this Brian Simon Birch, who received an MBE, be one and the same as the deceased?

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Alan checks another source to see what other information they can find.

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Born on 17th December 1937.

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-Royal Corps for Transport...

-Royal Transport. That's him then, isn't it?

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It looks very promising and now they have a birth date to work with. It's the break they needed.

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But there's another reason that Neil's delighted.

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If he is a MBE captain, he will have a reasonable pension.

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This is the first real indication they could be dealing with

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a substantial estate but Neil still doesn't know how much it's actually worth.

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I'm hoping that maybe up to 20, 40, £50,000 of cash asset and then maybe a property on top of that.

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In the meantime, we've ticked the box that says it's worth something.

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We now just have to find the family and worry about how much it's worth at a later date.

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Captain Birch MBE of the Royal Corps for Transport was a qualified skipper

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of Landing Craft Tanks or LCTs, which were used to move troops and heavy equipment to remote places.

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Major Ted Prewer served under Simon in the '70s and remembers him as an exemplary and inspiring leader.

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Simon was a very confident and very competent ship's captain

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and everything he did was measured and he did everything very calmly.

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Simon's ability to keep a cool head in a crisis

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was seriously tested during a routine voyage from the UK to Norway.

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We left Harwich in October 1974 and the weather forecast was good.

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Unfortunately, the weather changed dramatically.

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We were confronted with 40-foot waves and we were literally chugging up

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to the crest of a wave and down into the trough.

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They were that large.

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And you were in grave danger of capsizing.

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One of the warrant officers cited that it was the first time

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that he'd ever seen a seaman getting down on his knees and praying.

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Simon decided to take shelter.

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He manoeuvred the craft at a point that he considered was safe

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to ensure that the vessel didn't broach

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and it was his competence and experience that saved our lives.

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Later that same year, the Ministry of Defence called on Simon

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to help them demonstrate the LCTs to the Iranian navy.

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His expertise led to several being sold and he was duly rewarded with an MBE.

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Back in the office, after a difficult start, case manager Dave Slee

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is now working under the assumption that the deceased is Captain Birch.

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If he is, then they've identified his parents as Samuel Birch and Edith Parfitt.

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Hello, good morning. I'm sorry to trouble you. My name's David Slee.

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I'm trying to trace a family in connection with an unclaimed estate.

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Early research has thrown up a Raymond Evans from Wales,

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the widower of a possible sister of the deceased.

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Am I right in believing that your wife had a brother called Brian Birch?

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A cousin?

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So she never had a brother called Brian?

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He was in the Army? So...

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Although he'd got the relationship wrong,

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it looks like he's got the right family

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and Raymond is full of information about Captain Birch.

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Apparently he was an only child who had no children of his own

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but his father, Samuel, was one of 13 children.

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However, the important question remains unanswered.

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There's still no hard proof that this Captain Birch is actually the deceased.

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Nothing to link Malta to this captain at the moment.

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I've got another guy to phone. I'll write this tree up.

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It's not 100% sure that this is the right one but...

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Dave has got the number of a possible cousin, who's also in Wales.

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Mr Birch? Sorry to trouble you, Sir.

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If he is Brian's first cousin, then he would also be the first heir.

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You had a cousin called Brian Birch?

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He lived in Gozo?

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In Malta?

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Bingo. All their hunches have come good.

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Time to mobilise the troops.

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Ewart Lindsay is one of the company's senior researchers on the road.

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His job is to get to the heirs and sign them up before the competition does.

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I've got a colleague actually going to be in Wales today trying to see as many family members as possible

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and I'd like to make an appointment for him to pop along and see you and any other family members he can.

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It looks this case will be based around Newport in South Wales and that there will be a lot of heirs,

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so Neil sends Bob Barratt off there as well.

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Good luck, mate.

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It's a bold move because they still don't have much concrete information to go on

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but Neil's determined to stay ahead of the competition on this one.

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Dave has managed to confirm that Brian's grandparents,

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William and Mary, did indeed have 13 children.

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They've already found two heirs

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but the chances are, this is just the tip of the iceberg.

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A lot of work to do. A massive family.

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I've started bringing more people into this now.

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This is the valuable job we're working this week.

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Neil thinks that with a potential property valued at £200,000 and a healthy pension,

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this estate could be worth up to a quarter of a million pounds.

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Which means it's almost certain that most of their rivals will be onto the case as well.

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He desperately needs to stay ahead and the only way to ensure that

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is to gamble more and more resources and hope it pays off.

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Coming up...

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Oh, no. Why?

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A single act by an independent agent threatens to undo all their hard work.

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Agent, don't do this!

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While some investigations unfold very quickly and dramatically,

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others, like the case of Marilyn Kutner, are harder nuts to crack

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and require all the Heir Hunters' skills and tenacity.

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Marilyn's name appeared on the Treasury's list of unclaimed estates

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in July 2008 and was picked up by Celtic Research's Hector Birchwood,

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who set out to see if he could find any rightful heirs to her £12,000 estate.

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We don't really have much to go on.

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As usual, we had a date of death, a place of death and we had some names for the deceased.

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Marilyn Kutner died alone in her Brighton flat, aged just 59.

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She left no will and not even a photograph survives of her.

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Friend and neighbour Christine Toms, who lived in a flat beneath Marilyn's,

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knew her for over 20 years and remembers her fondly.

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A happy, cheerful lady.

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She always had a good word for everybody.

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I know she used to like going out a lot with her friends.

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A glamorous woman, Marilyn took great pride in her appearance.

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Oh, she was very attractive. She used to have fair hair with blonde highlights.

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Very pretty, very nicely made up. Lovely clothes.

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Marilyn lived in the top-floor flat of the seaside tower block with her mother, Blanche.

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Her and her mother used to sunbathe up on the penthouse all day long

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and they were brown as berries and they absolutely loved it.

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Mother and daughter had an extremely close relationship.

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They were sort of more like sisters than mother and daughter and her mother done everything for her.

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When Blanche died ten years ago, Marilyn found it increasingly difficult to face life on her own.

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She never went out after her mother died.

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Before her mother died, she had her girlfriends and her boyfriends.

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So I don't know, she never went out.

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So sad, to see her go downhill.

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Celtic Research is owned and run by Hector and his father, Peter Birchwood.

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Together, they have over 40 years' experience of tracing the beneficiaries of unclaimed estates.

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But this case would test Hector's heir-hunting powers to the limit.

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The name Kutner indicated to me it would definitely be European,

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possibly Jewish, so my initial impression was that it was going to go to one of our agents in Europe

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and we were probably going to be able to find heirs, if any,

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in Israel, Canada, the US, South Africa, possibly the United Kingdom.

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Like any case, the first goal was to try and identify the birth of the deceased.

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She was born in 1949 and we were able to, from that birth, identify who her parents were.

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Marilyn's parents were Aaron Kutner and Blanche Koenigsberg.

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A little bit of investigation into Blanche's family yielded some unexpected results.

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The deceased's mother was born in the UK, a bit to my surprise.

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On top of that, her parents were also married in the UK

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so her mother, her father, her grandparents,

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all had events occurring here in the United Kingdom and then we found out that she had no other siblings.

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So as far as I was concerned,

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very, very quickly, the maternal side was dead without issue.

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As Marilyn's mother's family wasn't going to supply any heirs,

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Hector turned his attention to the family of her father, Aaron Kutner.

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He found a birth certificate for Aaron that showed he was born in Whitechapel in 1915

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and listed his parents as Emanuel Kutner and Annie Horowitz.

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So Hector went to the 1911 census to see what he could find.

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At first, he drew a blank.

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We weren't able to find the name of Kutner so we assumed that perhaps

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maybe he wasn't in the United Kingdom during the 1911 census.

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But then he made a fascinating discovery.

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Emanuel Kutner in the census is listed as Mandel Kutner, not Emanuel.

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That's an acceptable change in his name.

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Mandel Kutner would've been his Jewish name, to which he's known to God and other Jews.

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Emanuel would've been his gentile name.

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Little did Hector know that this was only the first confusion of this kind

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that his investigation would throw up.

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But he did make an important discovery that finally uncovered the origins of the Kutner family.

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Both Mandel and Annie were Russian residents and citizens.

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It seems that Annie Horowitz and Emanuel Kutner

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were part of the massive wave of immigration

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that came over from what is now Lithuania at the end of the 19th century,

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fleeing prejudice and persecution in their own country.

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Jews were confined to an area of western Russia

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called the Pale of Settlement.

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Within this area, which stretched from the Black Sea

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to the Baltic Sea, Jews had to live in designated towns.

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They were not allowed to own businesses, land, farms.

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They were largely reduced to destitution.

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This was a deliberate act by the Russian government

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to persecute and punish Jews basically for being Jews.

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Two million Jews left Eastern Europe between 1881 and 1914

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and 120,000 of them settled in the UK.

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But it seems that Annie and Mandel didn't make the journey together.

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She came over separately with a young son from an earlier marriage.

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For immigrants like Marilyn's grandparents, London was a daunting prospect.

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But in the East End, they were lucky to find a safety net

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of organisations, set up by wealthy, established Jewish families.

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Behind me is the Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor.

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Institutions like this were essential to the welfare of Jewish people and you would come here,

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you'd get a meal, you'd get the basic essentials of life.

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It was like a miniature welfare state that existed in the East End, created by local people.

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Many of the immigrants were skilled tailors and dressmakers

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and used these trades to earn a living in their adopted country.

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Marilyn's grandmother, Annie Horowitz, spent the few coins that she possessed

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on setting herself up on a stall in the market on Petticoat Lane,

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which by the late-19th century was already an established centre for the rag trade.

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Jewish immigrants pour in to here from Eastern Europe

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and they open up their own little businesses and stalls

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in Petticoat Lane, selling clothing, beigels and chola, herrings,

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but it was a hubbub, people calling out in Yiddish, in broken English.

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Really chaotic but I would imagine very, very exciting.

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Within six months of coming to the UK, Annie had met and married

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Aaron's father, Mandel Kutner, a fellow Jewish immigrant and Hebrew teacher.

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But Hector couldn't find any sign of any other children from that marriage.

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They would have been Marilyn's aunts and uncles

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and their children could be the beneficiaries of her £12,000 estate.

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His only option was to compile a list of every Kutner or Horowitz birth in Whitechapel since 1906

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and here, he came up against another challenge.

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How you spell Horovich or Horowitz is a difficult task,

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mainly because Yiddish doesn't have any vowels

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and so when somebody's writing down that name,

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they have to apply our system of using vowels

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to make the same phonetic sound which would be used in Yiddish.

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So we found that the mothers' maiden names given on the index varied quite significantly.

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Coming up, Hector goes searching for a needle in a haystack.

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He changed his name to something similar to Kutner, maybe or Coates or Kutz,

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and he married someone by the name of Jean.

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And the hunt for Brian Birch's heirs hots up.

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Keep Bob on the way down there and have three of them.

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Let's bombard it tonight.

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Heir Hunters solve thousands of cases a year,

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ensuring that millions of pounds are paid out to rightful heirs.

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But not every case can be cracked.

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The Treasury has a list of over 2,000 estates that have baffled the Heir Hunters and remain unclaimed.

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These estates stay on the list for up to 30 years

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and each one could be worth anything from £5,000 to many millions.

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Today, we're focusing on three names from the list.

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Are they relatives of yours?

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Could you be in line for an unexpected windfall?

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Murdoch McRae Urquhart died in Felixstowe

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on 5th January 2004 aged 75.

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The Urquharts are a Scottish clan based round Loch Ness, so he may have come from there.

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If no heirs of his are found, his money will go to the Government.

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Did you know Joan Mildred Clare Greenslade,

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who died in Epsom, Surrey aged 86?

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So far, no-one has come forward to claim her estate either.

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Or what about Fredrick Thomas Caleb Bache,

0:24:150:24:18

who died on 29th September 2004 in Stourbridge in the West Midlands?

0:24:180:24:24

Fredrik's mother's name was Woolridge

0:24:240:24:27

and Bache, while sounding German, is actually an old English name.

0:24:270:24:32

His estate is also unclaimed.

0:24:320:24:34

If the names Murdoch Urquhart, Joan Greenslade or Thomas Bache mean anything to you,

0:24:370:24:42

or someone you know, you could have a fortune coming your way.

0:24:420:24:46

Back on the case of Marilyn Kutner and her £12,000 estate.

0:24:550:24:59

Heir Hunter Hector Birchwood had been battling against the odds

0:24:590:25:03

to find any siblings for her father, Aaron.

0:25:030:25:06

The problem lay in the variations in the spelling of her grandmother Annie Horowitz's surname.

0:25:080:25:13

But eventually, after an exhaustive search,

0:25:150:25:18

he discovered four potentials - one sister and three brothers.

0:25:180:25:23

While tracing the descendants of one of the brothers, Reuben Kutner, Hector managed to speak

0:25:230:25:28

to some relations who gave him some vital information.

0:25:280:25:32

All they could tell me was that they knew he'd changed his name.

0:25:340:25:38

He changed his name to something similar to Kutner,

0:25:380:25:42

maybe or Coates or Kutz, and he married someone by the name of Jean.

0:25:420:25:48

And they were sure that he had a daughter called Sharon.

0:25:480:25:52

That's all I had to go on.

0:25:520:25:53

Deciding to change your name sounds like a drastic step

0:25:530:25:57

but for many Jews living in England in the early 20th century, it was a necessary decision.

0:25:570:26:03

They would anglicise their names because they didn't want to sound foreign - and they weren't foreign.

0:26:030:26:10

They'd been born in this country, they spoke proper English,

0:26:100:26:13

they were educated, but they didn't want to stand out as foreigners.

0:26:130:26:17

Having faced persecution abroad, the Jews were now confronted with prejudice in their adopted country.

0:26:170:26:24

At the outbreak of the First World War, things got worse.

0:26:240:26:28

A lot of these Jewish immigrants had Germanic sounding names

0:26:280:26:32

and indeed there were riots in the East End of London,

0:26:320:26:35

where English people would throw bricks through windows of shops

0:26:350:26:38

which had German-sounding names, but of course they weren't Germans, they were Jewish.

0:26:380:26:44

Hector and his team were now up against their third name-based conundrum on this case.

0:26:440:26:49

This time, he had the nightmarish task of trying to find all the marriages for somebody

0:26:520:26:57

with a surname that sounded a bit like Kutner or Kutz, who had married a Jean.

0:26:570:27:03

We made a particularly long list of these potential marriages

0:27:030:27:08

and then worked those marriages down to see if one of them yielded

0:27:080:27:14

a daughter by the name of Sharon.

0:27:140:27:17

Eventually, by a process of elimination, one of them did.

0:27:170:27:22

Hector found a marriage in the 1940s of a Reginald Irwin Coates

0:27:220:27:26

and a Jean or Jenny Tash, who'd shortened her name from Tashinski.

0:27:260:27:32

All Hector needed now was positive proof that Reginald and Reuben were the same person.

0:27:320:27:40

We found Reginald Erwin's death and his date of birth matched the date of birth that we had

0:27:400:27:46

for Ruben Kutner and once we were able to speak to his daughter, then we knew we had the right man.

0:27:460:27:53

His daughter, Sharon Coates was Marilyn's first cousin and the heir Hector had been looking for.

0:27:530:28:00

My father became Reginald Irwin Coates.

0:28:000:28:03

He did that some time before the Second World War.

0:28:030:28:05

I think it was just really so it sounded more English, to fit in with other people better.

0:28:050:28:10

So it wasn't showing the immigrant status.

0:28:100:28:13

Sharon had met her cousin Marilyn a few times when she was a young girl,

0:28:130:28:17

but since then they'd completely lost touch.

0:28:170:28:20

I don't know anything about Marilyn's life, really.

0:28:200:28:23

I suspect she moved to Brighton with her parents but I don't really know that for sure.

0:28:230:28:28

I didn't have very much contact with any of the relations on my father's side very often.

0:28:280:28:33

Just a few family occasions.

0:28:330:28:35

She may well have been there but I don't particularly remember her.

0:28:350:28:39

Sharon turned out to be one of six heirs to Marilyn's £12,000 estate.

0:28:390:28:45

It was very strange, actually, inheriting from someone who I really didn't know existed.

0:28:450:28:50

Very odd indeed.

0:28:500:28:51

But it did have the advantage that I got back in touch with my cousins.

0:28:510:28:55

Being contacted by Hector has given Sharon a chance to reflect on her extraordinary family history.

0:28:550:29:02

I really would like to know more about my father's family.

0:29:020:29:06

It would be quite nice, just because, as I get older, I think more about family.

0:29:060:29:11

Immigrant families like the Kutners were determined to lose their foreigner status.

0:29:110:29:16

But, in the process, they lost touch with each other.

0:29:160:29:19

Marilyn may have died alone but, because of her, this is one family that has been reunited.

0:29:190:29:26

Heir Hunters Fraser & Fraser have been investigating the case

0:29:340:29:39

of Brian Simon Birch MBE, who died aged 71 on the island of Malta.

0:29:390:29:44

His lasting memory will always be, as I say,

0:29:450:29:48

outside St Paul's Bar or the Electro Bar.

0:29:480:29:51

When we some good sessions, good times.

0:29:510:29:54

Simon was very dry.

0:29:540:29:56

He would make something funny out of any serious incident.

0:29:560:30:00

He always could come out with a comment that would make you laugh.

0:30:000:30:06

Before he retired to enjoy ex-pat life, Simon was a captain

0:30:060:30:10

in the British Army whose courage and skill was much admired.

0:30:100:30:16

I was very pleased for Simon,

0:30:160:30:18

because his MBE was thoroughly deserved.

0:30:180:30:22

He had done an outstanding job and he was recognised for it.

0:30:220:30:25

The company have gambled a huge amount of people and resources

0:30:250:30:29

trying to stay ahead of the competition on this case

0:30:290:30:34

because they believe that his estate could be worth up to £250,000.

0:30:340:30:40

I'm pretty pleased with where we are.

0:30:400:30:42

We're certainly in pole position.

0:30:420:30:45

But I think we're quite a long way ahead of the pack, as well.

0:30:450:30:49

Brian's father Sam had 12 brothers and sisters.

0:30:490:30:52

So far, the team have found the heirs from three stems and they just keep on coming.

0:30:520:30:57

She has seven children that's going to be entitled.

0:30:570:31:01

So, a busy old day for the secretary.

0:31:020:31:05

But all that's about to change.

0:31:050:31:07

Neil's received a piece of paper that's shattered their lead

0:31:110:31:14

and handed over their advantage to the competition.

0:31:140:31:18

So, they're going to have that now, aren't they?

0:31:180:31:20

The independent agent in Malta has finally faxed over Brian's death certificate.

0:31:200:31:25

But Fraser's didn't have an exclusive deal with him,

0:31:250:31:28

so he's also sent it to several of their competitors.

0:31:280:31:32

Oh, no.

0:31:330:31:36

If the rival companies were struggling to identify

0:31:360:31:39

the right Birch family before, they won't be now.

0:31:390:31:42

Oh, agent, don't do this.

0:31:420:31:44

Any advantage Fraser's had has been wiped out.

0:31:440:31:49

Well, it's a matter of time now, isn't it? It's a race.

0:31:490:31:52

After this setback, Neil and Dave Slee meet for crisis talks in the library.

0:31:520:31:58

The biggest concern is the West Country stuff.

0:31:580:32:01

If that's not being covered, then you've got...

0:32:010:32:04

I've just taken him off Tony.

0:32:040:32:06

Then keep Bob on the way down there and have three of them.

0:32:060:32:09

Let's bombard it tonight, get as many people seen tonight in Wales.

0:32:090:32:14

As well as Ewart and Bob Barratt, they're also sending senior researcher Bob Smith down

0:32:160:32:21

to join them, to make sure that as soon as an heir is discovered,

0:32:210:32:25

a Fraser's representative is on their doorstep to sign them up.

0:32:250:32:29

And Neil's taking no chances in the office either.

0:32:290:32:34

I think, pretty much, most of the guys in the company are on this job at the moment.

0:32:340:32:39

While Dave Slee and his team continue to chase down more and more Birch heirs,

0:32:390:32:43

case manager Frances Brett has been brought on to kickstart the maternal Parfitt side of the tree.

0:32:430:32:48

And straight away, she runs into a roadblock.

0:32:480:32:53

I think there's a little bit of a dilemma as to how people fit into the family.

0:32:530:32:59

Allan has been searching through online records and databases for information about the Parfitts.

0:32:590:33:06

The deceased mother had a brother and a sister,

0:33:060:33:09

according to the 1911 census.

0:33:090:33:11

So, obviously, it could be possible there are children born

0:33:110:33:14

after the 1911 census that we haven't identified yet.

0:33:140:33:18

Brian's mother, Edith, had a sister, Elizabeth, and a brother, Frederick.

0:33:180:33:23

Their mother was Annie Parfitt.

0:33:230:33:25

But there's no record of a father, which raises the question of illegitimacy.

0:33:250:33:29

If they are illegitimate, then under English and Welsh law, they would only be half brothers and sisters

0:33:310:33:37

and their descendants would be half-blood nieces and nephews.

0:33:370:33:41

But the Parfitts may still have a stronger claim than Brian's father's family, the Birches,

0:33:410:33:47

because half-blood nieces and nephews have a greater entitlement than full-blood cousins.

0:33:470:33:52

We are going to need some certificates.

0:33:550:33:58

But in the meantime, we will work it out and see what we find out.

0:33:580:34:01

But until those certificates arrive, Frances and her team can't afford to drop the ball.

0:34:010:34:08

They must keep tracking down potential Parfitt heirs

0:34:080:34:11

if they're going to stay ahead of the competition.

0:34:110:34:14

150 miles away in Cwmbran, South Wales, Ewart is gearing up to make a major breakthrough.

0:34:170:34:24

He has taken charge of one particular stem of the Birch family tree,

0:34:250:34:30

the descendants of Fred Birch, Brian's uncle.

0:34:300:34:33

He's about to meet with heirs John and Dawn Evans who, along with their

0:34:330:34:37

brother, Steven, are the children of Raymond Evans and Julie Birch, who was Brian Birch's first cousin.

0:34:370:34:44

Hi, Mr Evans. Ewart Lindsay from Fraser & Fraser. How are you? You're John, aren't you?

0:34:440:34:49

-Yes, I am.

-Lovely.

0:34:490:34:51

What's happened is that there is a second cousin who has passed

0:34:510:34:54

on without leaving a will. OK?

0:34:540:34:57

I don't think you probably... You wouldn't know who the deceased is?

0:34:570:35:02

-Not really, no.

-I don't think you ever met him.

0:35:020:35:05

-Did you know him?

-Yes, yes.

0:35:050:35:08

I met him a few times.

0:35:080:35:10

To his father's funeral, to his mum's funeral.

0:35:120:35:16

Ewart talks them through how they can go about making a claim on their relative's estate.

0:35:160:35:22

Anything your mother would have got from the estate will then get divided up between the three of you.

0:35:220:35:29

-Thank you very much.

-Bye-bye.

0:35:290:35:31

After Ewart leaves, the family try to take in the impact of what they've just been told.

0:35:310:35:37

I was a little bit shocked, when I heard.

0:35:370:35:39

-It seems a bit strange.

-Never met him at all.

0:35:410:35:46

It's all a little bit surreal.

0:35:460:35:48

Well, it's nice to think that, although we didn't meet him,

0:35:480:35:52

that we are getting some sort of benefit from it.

0:35:520:35:55

But it would have been nicer to have met him, I suppose.

0:35:550:35:58

It's the end of a long day for the Heir Hunters.

0:36:000:36:03

Ewart's had a great result, signing up two heirs in one visit.

0:36:030:36:07

But this is only one stem out of 13.

0:36:070:36:10

There's still a long way to go.

0:36:100:36:12

He heads off to join fellow operatives Bob Barratt

0:36:120:36:16

and Bob Smith at their hotel before starting all over again tomorrow.

0:36:160:36:21

The next day dawns bright and early in Wales.

0:36:310:36:34

The two Bobs are comparing notes on the heirs

0:36:340:36:36

they managed to sign up yesterday and the task ahead of them today.

0:36:360:36:40

Morning, guys.

0:36:400:36:43

-Late again?

-Yeah.

0:36:430:36:46

I tried ringing you this morning, you know that?

0:36:460:36:48

Yeah, he was out for a run, I expect.

0:36:480:36:50

No, I've been speaking to my heir. I've got a 10:30 appointment this morning.

0:36:500:36:56

Back in London, Dave Slee is already hard at work.

0:36:580:37:01

Good man, thanks very much. Bye. Take care. Have a nice weekend. Bye-bye.

0:37:010:37:05

Now it's just a question of tying up the loose ends of the Birch side of the investigation.

0:37:050:37:11

And it's been quite an operation.

0:37:110:37:13

There are at least...

0:37:150:37:17

18 first cousins alive,

0:37:170:37:20

with the possibility of two more, the Australian descendants.

0:37:200:37:24

And 10 cousins once removed.

0:37:260:37:28

Although there's still no sign of any competition,

0:37:290:37:32

the team need to sign up as many heirs as possible on this case.

0:37:320:37:36

Their commission needs to cover the costs of the resources they've spent on it.

0:37:360:37:42

Meanwhile, the question mark hanging over the legitimacy of the maternal

0:37:420:37:46

Parfitt side of the family is still troubling Neil.

0:37:460:37:50

I'm thinking that they're all illegit?

0:37:520:37:55

She was in a relationship, and just didn't married.

0:37:550:37:58

Was there any of them?

0:37:580:37:59

-She just didn't get married and knocked out a whole family.

-Yeah.

0:37:590:38:04

So we should do a search between 11 and 21 at least, in the same district.

0:38:040:38:08

If the whole maternal side are illegitimate,

0:38:080:38:11

that means the company won't have to chase around trying to sign them up, which would be great news for Neil.

0:38:110:38:18

At last, the all-important Parfitt birth certificates have arrived.

0:38:210:38:26

We've got the births, they're "no father shown" on there.

0:38:260:38:31

Thomas was the father of the girls that were

0:38:310:38:34

having these illegitimate children, so she's just given grandad's name.

0:38:340:38:39

Sure enough, Edith Parfitt's birth certificate does not show a father,

0:38:390:38:44

which means her parents cannot have been married.

0:38:440:38:47

But on her marriage certificate she puts her grandfather's name,

0:38:470:38:51

Thomas Parfitt, where her father's name should be.

0:38:510:38:55

People didn't want to leave a blank on their marriage certificate

0:38:550:38:58

and quite often, gave the name of their grandfather

0:38:580:39:03

as being that of their dad,

0:39:030:39:06

which is exactly what Edith did when she married Samuel Erasmus Birch in 1937.

0:39:060:39:13

Mr Barrett, Neil.

0:39:130:39:15

Just to tell you, mate, that mother's side is illegit, so it doesn't look like there's going

0:39:150:39:21

to be any beneficiaries on that, so all you've got to do is those trees with the three of you. Bye.

0:39:210:39:26

It's a great result for the heir hunters.

0:39:260:39:29

The maternal side has been discounted.

0:39:290:39:33

The final heirs on the paternal side are being signed up and the competition never even got close.

0:39:330:39:40

Neil took a gamble and it paid off but he's not resting on his laurels.

0:39:400:39:44

This is really just the start.

0:39:440:39:46

We've got people to see, contracts still to get and then obviously all

0:39:460:39:51

the paperwork which goes with them, to put all their case together.

0:39:510:39:55

But really, that's going to take us a month, two months.

0:39:550:40:00

That's still only just the tip of the iceberg.

0:40:000:40:02

The legal system in England and Wales takes about 12 months to conclude.

0:40:020:40:07

In Malta, we've had a warning it's going to be nearer two years.

0:40:070:40:10

Certainly, we're going to have done all this work and not get paid for that for about two years or so.

0:40:100:40:15

Down in Wales, Ewart has got one final heir to visit.

0:40:210:40:24

Hello, Mrs Stevens? Hi. Ewart Lindsay from Fraser & Fraser.

0:40:260:40:29

Lynda Stevens is the only member of the Fred Birch stem that Ewatt hasn't yet seen.

0:40:290:40:35

She's Raymond Evans's sister-in-law, and aunt to John and Dawn.

0:40:370:40:42

Unlike her niece and nephew, she has a clear memory of her cousin.

0:40:420:40:46

Brian was always away in the army.

0:40:460:40:48

-Once he joined the army, you know, then we didn't see a lot of him.

-OK.

0:40:480:40:53

I seen him more when I was younger, because my father kept pigeons

0:40:530:40:58

with Uncle Sam and our dad used to take me out to the pigeon loft and that.

0:40:580:41:05

-Brian was there then.

-I hope you do get enough to go on a nice cruise.

0:41:050:41:10

A cruise, or some ice cream down the seaside!

0:41:100:41:13

THEY LAUGH

0:41:130:41:14

Nice meeting you.

0:41:160:41:18

Lynda is left behind to mull over the amazing events of the last 24 hours.

0:41:190:41:25

It's a real shocker. It has really opened up cupboards, if you know what I mean. Family history.

0:41:250:41:32

So surprising is the family.

0:41:320:41:36

You know, the size of the family, and you don't even realise that they're there.

0:41:360:41:41

And what of the man who, albeit unwittingly, brought all this about?

0:41:410:41:47

He was quite nice looking. Well, I thought he was anyway.

0:41:470:41:50

He always reminded me of my father.

0:41:500:41:53

You would have thought he would have made a will, but then

0:41:540:41:57

who was he going to leave it to? You know?

0:41:570:42:01

He most probably wouldn't even have thought about it.

0:42:010:42:04

In his military life, Simon showed great courage and expertise.

0:42:040:42:09

In retirement, he was the archetypal Englishman abroad

0:42:090:42:13

and if his funeral was anything to go by, a much-missed friend.

0:42:130:42:19

It was a really, really nice service.

0:42:190:42:22

It was in the open air

0:42:220:42:24

and a very, very good turnout.

0:42:240:42:28

Simon was just a very, very private man.

0:42:300:42:33

Once you got to know him, he'd always be very friendly and very kind to you.

0:42:330:42:37

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

0:42:420:42:47

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0:42:530:42:56

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0:42:560:42:58

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