Snare/Warcup Heir Hunters


Snare/Warcup

Series following the work of probate researchers. The heir hunters are trying to find relatives of Margaret Snare, who died aged 85 in 2010.


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Transcript


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Today, the heir hunters are chasing an estate

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that for a limited period they have exclusive access to.

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Their job now is to find the long-lost relatives

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before the estate goes public, and inform them

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of their unexpected windfall.

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Could they be ringing at your door?

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On today's programme,

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the team finds heirs, but when they do,

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their family history doesn't marry up.

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There's one member of the family suggesting that

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her mother died in 1960.

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There's another suggesting that her mother died in the Blitz in 1944.

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In Hull, a confusing case for the heir hunters,

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where it appears the Treasury could have got it wrong.

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Why is it on the Treasury list

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if she's in fact got next of kin?

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And how you could be entitled to unclaimed inheritance,

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where heirs need to be found.

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Could you be in line for a cash payout?

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

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If no relatives are found,

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then any money that's left behind will go to the government.

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Last year, they kept £14 million from unclaimed estates.

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But there are over 30 specialist firms

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competing to stop this happening.

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They're the heir hunters, and they make it their business

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to track down missing relatives

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and help them claim their rightful inheritance.

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If we don't trace the right family,

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these estates will go to the government

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and nobody wants to see that.

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It's Thursday morning in London, and overnight,

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the Treasury has published a new list of names of unclaimed estates.

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In the offices of Fraser and Fraser,

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partner Charles is scanning the list,

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looking for estates that may have value.

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That could be worth something.

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As he picks names,

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he hands them over to the company's senior case managers.

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Their job now is to work with their researchers

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and find the living relatives who will hopefully inherit an estate.

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As senior case manager Tony Pledger

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is slightly behind schedule this morning, he draws the short straw.

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Tony, as you are the last one here,

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-you have been allocated...

-The last one here? Me?

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-Yeah, but he had an excuse this morning.

-You mean,

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-there's nobody behind me? OK, sorry.

-Nobody wants to be behind you, Tony.

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Margaret Sheila Thomas, nee Brown.

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-That's all right.

-It's not going anywhere fast.

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The names Thomas and Brown

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are some of the most common surnames in the UK.

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Not a nice prospect for an heir hunter.

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Plus, on top of that, the team's initial research suggests

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any beneficiaries may prove hard to find.

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But if anyone can find the heirs, it's Tony.

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With decades of experience under his belt, he sets to work.

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THEY SPEAK INAUDIBLY

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All right, I'll check that out.

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But as the morning draws on, it becomes apparent that

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being able to find the long-lost relatives on the Thomas case

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is looking highly unlikely.

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No matter how good Tony is at his job.

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The point is that if the care home's shut down,

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as you say, you're slightly stuffed.

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The team have exhausted all their leads...

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..so partner Charles is forced to make a decision.

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It might be uneconomic for us to do much research on it.

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He needs to use his managers' time productively,

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as no chance of heirs

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means no chance of commission for the company.

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He puts Tony on to a case that hasn't come through the Treasury,

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but from a solicitor's referral.

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Whatever.

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The heir hunters' interest in this case

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has dramatically increased over the past week,

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having heard the solicitor who referred it to them

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has also passed it on to the Treasury.

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This means the estate must have some value

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and the company has to act fast

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if they're going to be the first to find heirs

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before any competing companies get wind of it.

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Ta-ra. Bye. Bye.

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Margaret Snare died aged 85 in 2010.

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She passed away at her home in the South East of England,

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and her life appears to be a bit of a mystery.

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Even her neighbours were at a loss to describe her after her death.

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All they knew was that she led a solitary, reclusive life,

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only appearing now and again to pop out to the shops.

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The community knew of her, but not about her.

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Margaret's life may have been a mystery, but it's a mystery

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researcher Aisha has spent the past week trying to solve.

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I reckon that goes with that.

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It has not been an easy task.

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Aisha initially discovered Margaret had married twice,

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first to a man called Cecil Wakefield,

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who she divorced in 1955,

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and in the same year, she went on to marry Lloyd Snare.

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Both relationships produced no children,

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but Margaret HAD had a child.

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It seems at some point during her first marriage,

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she bore a son to another man.

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Aisha looked and found the child,

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a son called Michael Richards,

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but he died a bachelor in 1999.

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We're just sort of extending the search now.

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She would now have to research Margaret's siblings.

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All of this information Tony Pledger would be reviewing,

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if he could find it.

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Right, listen, can you just give me a minute

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while I try and get the file out?

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I'm trying to multi-task here

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and you'll probably appreciate that's not working too well.

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Whilst Tony looks for the file,

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he wants to get a travelling heir hunter out on the road,

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to reinspect the deceased's property

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to get an idea of its worth and to glean any additional information

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from Margaret's neighbours.

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Hello, Dave.

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'The surname is Snare, S-N-A-R-E.'

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Dave Hadley is one of the company's squadron of senior researchers,

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who are willing to go wherever a case takes them

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in the hunt for heirs.

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Their goal is to retrieve vital certificates and research

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and, ultimately, meet face-to-face with long-lost relatives

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and hopefully get them to sign up with the company.

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I'm going to speak to neighbours and make local enquiries

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and see what I can find out about her.

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Back in the office, Tony is pleasantly surprised by the leg work

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Aisha's already put in with Margaret Snare's wider family.

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Based on her research, she thinks Margaret's parents

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were a Frederick and Mabel King,

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and they had six other children,

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one of whom Aisha believes is still alive,

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a sister called Betty.

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Tony is trying his hardest to contact her and set up a meeting.

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Hello?

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Hello?

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Hello?

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Meanwhile, out on the road,

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Dave Hadley has made it to Kent

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and is beginning his door-to-door enquiries

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with Margaret's neighbours.

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We're trying to trace the next of kin. We understand

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she lived on her own in the house.

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-See the guy over there?

-Yeah.

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Now, he's the manager or something of it.

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-He may know something.

-OK.

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-The guy in the black.

-The one on the left-hand side?

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-That's it.

-Excellent.

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-Thanks very much, I'm much obliged to you.

-Anything to help.

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-Cheers, thank you.

-Bye-bye.

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Never one to turn down a lead,

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Dave heads straight over the road.

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Now, I understand from the neighbour

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that you've worked here for quite a while.

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-Yes.

-And you might have a bit of information about her.

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It turns out this gentleman was the person

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who'd first spotted a lack of activity in Margaret's home.

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He and another neighbour knocked on the door.

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No answer, and the lady next door phoned the police.

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They broke in around the back entrance

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and found she'd passed away.

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John, thanks for your help. If you do hear anything, give us a bell.

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Dave Hadley's enquiries haven't done much to advance the hunt.

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It seems Margaret's reclusive ways

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have led to a dead end on information,

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but it hasn't been a wasted trip.

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'Looking at the state of the place,'

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I would suspect that she probably owned it,

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cos if it was rented property, the landlord wouldn't have allowed it

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to get into this state, I wouldn't have thought, so...

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..I think we can be fairly sure that she owned the property.

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This comes as reassuring news to the team in the office.

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So far, Tony hasn't been able to verify that she owned her own home,

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but that could just be because Margaret had lived there so long.

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The investigation continues. Travelling heir hunter

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Bob Barrett has made it to Margaret's sister's home.

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Hello. Mrs Sawyer, please.

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-She's inside.

-Thanks very much.

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Bob and Betty discuss what she knows about her family history,

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to crosscheck her recollections with Aisha's research.

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You thought there were nine?

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Yeah, because I was the youngest of nine.

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So nine children in the King family,

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not the seven Aisha initially suspected.

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Bob relays this crucial information straight back to the office,

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along with some positive news.

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Oh, right. No, I'm just sitting next to Mrs Sawyer now

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and Mrs Sawyer is just about to sign an agreement.

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Tony is pleased with the result

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and the additional family information

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will come in useful on the office's family tree.

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But Betty's version of events surrounding her mother Mabel's death

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contradicts the research from the office.

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Bob's taking down the details

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and is getting increasingly concerned with what he hears.

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Would have been about '42.

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She - we assumed - had died

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-when the house was bombed.

-Right.

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Four of us youngest kids went into Dr Barnardo's

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and the eldest children -

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Dr Barnardo's found them living-in jobs.

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-Oh, right.

-Because that's how it used to be in those days.

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It seems Betty and her other brothers

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and sisters had always been under the belief that Mabel had died

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during a bombing raid in the Blitz.

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In reality, her death certificate shows

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she actually died in the 1960's.

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This is all new to Betty.

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Us children, me being the youngest, was always told that

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when the house was bombed in Finchley, North London,

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that's when my mother vanished.

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So what had gone on in the King family?

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Why and where had Mabel gone during the war?

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It's a mystery that, right now, there are no firm answers to.

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The family the office are trying their hardest to trace,

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seems to have fragmented over the years.

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The last time Betty saw her sister Margaret

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was in the 1950s.

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The only thing that the heir hunters can be sure about is that

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something dramatic happened in the King family

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during the 1940s that led to Mabel's mysterious disappearance.

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After his meeting,

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Bob's intrigued by the family's complex past.

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At the moment, I don't know which version is true.

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It would be very interesting to find out, at the end of the day,

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what did happen and what motivated that.

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Later in the programme,

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was the war a decisive factor in Mabel's mysterious disappearance?

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I think the circumstances of war meant that some people

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really did become strangers and those family bonds were never able

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to be re-established, even after the war.

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Every Thursday morning,

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the Treasury's list of unclaimed estates

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is advertised to the heir hunting companies

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and they scramble to be the first to find beneficiaries to an estate.

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But heir hunts can take on many a twist and turn

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and a case that starts off simple,

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can turn out to be anything but.

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Dorothy Warcup died, aged 81 years old, in Hull Royal Infirmary

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in March 2010.

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She left no valid will and her estimated £70,000 estate

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was put onto the Treasury's list.

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In Hull, Dorothy was well-known locally

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and had been an extremely active lady in the community.

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Anne White became Dorothy's friend through a shared interest.

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Dorothy did guiding for many years.

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I met her 30 years ago

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and I feel she was probably an experienced Guider before then.

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She was extremely devoted. Guiding meant everything to Dorothy.

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Like Anne, Dorothy gave her spare time to the Brownies

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and the Girl Guide movement.

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Despite being perceived as quite a strict lady,

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Anne knew it was all a front.

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A gentle giant.

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She had the loudest voice you could ever imagine,

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but she was a kind, helpful soul,

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who just wanted to make the best for everyone, really.

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Dorothy was a widow and her estate is made up mainly from her home.

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It appeared on the Treasury's list

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and was picked up by Anna Dunn

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of heir hunting firm, DS Researchers.

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Right, OK, then.

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Anna specialises in cases based in the North of England and Scotland.

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But despite years of experience at heir hunting,

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Dorothy's case initially threw her.

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I was a little bit perplexed when I started working on the Warcup case,

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because I did find Dorothy Warcup on the electoral roll,

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but I also found her living with a son

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and what appeared to be a grandson.

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And then I thought, "Well, why is it on the Treasury list,

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"if, she's in fact, got next of kin?"

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Had The Treasury made a mistake? Something was amiss

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and Anna wanted to get to the bottom of it.

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Having used the electoral roll, she already knew

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where Dorothy had lived, and so sent one of her travelling heir hunters

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to make enquiries with the neighbours.

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We found that, in fact,

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Mark was Dorothy's son,

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and he had died in 2009.

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It was a sad discovery to make.

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According to the people who'd known Dorothy,

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her only child, Mark Warcup,

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had predeceased her by just six months.

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Dorothy was heartbroken.

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I think the death of Mark absolutely devastated Dorothy.

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There was no end to it all. She was just truly devastated.

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Mark was only in his early forties,

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but had fought a battle with drug addiction.

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He died of an overdose while visiting London.

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The police informed Dorothy of Mark's death.

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But it was Mark's life that Anna would now have to research

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in the hunt for Dorothy's heirs.

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She switched her attention to the grandson

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also mentioned on the electoral roll.

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I discovered that Mark had married in 1985

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and, following that,

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there was a birth of a boy called Jamie.

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Anna's research suggested that

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Dorothy married a Jack Warcup in 1960 and had Mark in 1967.

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He then married in 1985 and had a son, Jamie Warcup.

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If alive, he would be the sole heir

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to Dorothy's estimated £70,000 estate.

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Anna was wondering why, if she'd found all this out,

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the Treasury hadn't.

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She was about to get her answer.

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The case turned out to be more complicated

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once we realised that Jamie had been adopted out of the family.

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Under British law, children adopted out of a family

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lose any right to an estate,

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so although Jamie was a blood relative of Dorothy's,

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his adoption had changed everything.

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Both The Treasury and Anna know these rules,

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so she would now have to go back a generation

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to find Dorothy's parents and their brothers and sisters.

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This could lead her to aunts and uncles of Dorothy's

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and possibly cousins, but once again,

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there was a twist in the tale.

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And having received the birth certificate for Dorothy,

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I realised we only had the maternal side to go on.

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The reason Anna only had the maternal line to research

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was because Dorothy was born

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illegitimately to her mother,

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Ivy Kennington.

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Ivy was in her early twenties when she had Dorothy,

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and was working as a domestic servant in Hull.

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Seen here in her uniform,

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it was a job that was very popular in its day.

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In 1911, certainly,

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there were 1.3 million women employed in domestic service,

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and although that started to go down with the 20th century,

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with alternative employment opportunities being offered,

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there still would have been a very high proportion in the '20s.

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Largely because there was very little electricity,

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washing machines, this sort of thing,

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domestic work was extremely hard and extremely labour-intensive,

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so you would either have had a maid of all work,

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if you were a very small house, or even a charwoman coming in.

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Most people would have had something.

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These staff were sometimes very young girls,

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away from home for the first time,

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and some found themselves being taken advantage of.

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It is quite likely that the father of Ivy's baby

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was a member of the family, either a master of the house or a son,

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because this did happen quite often.

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And for women in Ivy's position, the prospects weren't good.

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It could not only ruin their career, but also their life.

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There was an enormous stigma

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in getting pregnant out of wedlock, yes.

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It went against all the Christian principles

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that were taught about marriage,

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and against the whole social mores of the day.

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In many cases, they were just sent packing

0:19:240:19:27

and there was no support given whatsoever.

0:19:270:19:30

These women weren't left with many options,

0:19:300:19:33

and we may never know what happened to Ivy after the pregnancy,

0:19:330:19:37

apart from the obvious fact Dorothy was born.

0:19:370:19:40

Probate researcher Anna was after answers of a different kind, though.

0:19:430:19:47

She now wanted to work out

0:19:480:19:50

whether Dorothy had any aunts and uncles,

0:19:500:19:52

as they could lead her to heirs.

0:19:520:19:55

Dorothy had two brothers,

0:19:550:19:59

one who died at the age of one.

0:19:590:20:00

The other married, but didn't have any children,

0:20:000:20:04

and then she had a sister who lived for about 70 years,

0:20:040:20:08

but didn't marry and didn't have any children.

0:20:080:20:12

This meant that it was the end of the road

0:20:130:20:16

and that there were no beneficiaries in this case,

0:20:160:20:20

so the case would be shelved.

0:20:200:20:22

It looked like she'd exhausted all leads,

0:20:230:20:27

but Anna was not going to give in that easily.

0:20:270:20:30

And this case was about to take on yet another direction

0:20:300:20:33

in its hunt for Dorothy's rightfully heirs.

0:20:330:20:36

With me being adopted, that wasn't my choice.

0:20:370:20:40

That got decided for me by the judge in the Crown Court.

0:20:400:20:43

Could you be in line for an unexpected windfall?

0:20:480:20:52

In the UK, the Treasury has a list of over 2,000 estates

0:20:520:20:56

that over the years have baffled the heir hunters and still remain unclaimed.

0:20:560:21:01

This is money that could have your name on it.

0:21:010:21:03

These estates can stay on the list for up to 30 years

0:21:050:21:08

and each one could be worth anything from £5,000

0:21:080:21:11

to many millions of pounds.

0:21:110:21:13

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

0:21:130:21:17

Could they be relatives of yours?

0:21:170:21:19

Dorothy Netta Food died in West Sussex in February 2004.

0:21:210:21:25

Does her distinctive name combination mean anything to you?

0:21:270:21:30

So far, all efforts to trace her heirs have failed.

0:21:310:21:34

Or did you know Filomena Pudlo,

0:21:360:21:38

who died in Chiswick, West London, back in 1995?

0:21:380:21:42

Are you Filomena's heir?

0:21:420:21:45

Both her first name and surname are Italian in origin.

0:21:450:21:49

Or finally, William Henry Merritt. He died in December 1996.

0:21:490:21:55

Unusually, only part of his address is listed.

0:21:550:21:59

Did you know William?

0:21:590:22:01

If no heirs are found to his estate, the money will go to the government.

0:22:010:22:04

If the names Dorothy Netta Food,

0:22:050:22:08

Filomena Pudlo or William Henry Merritt mean anything to you,

0:22:080:22:12

then you could have a windfall on its way.

0:22:120:22:15

Dorothy Warcup died aged 81 in Hull in March 2010.

0:22:210:22:26

She left no valid will

0:22:260:22:28

and her estimated £70,000 estate was put on to the Treasury's list.

0:22:280:22:33

Locally, she was a woman known for her commitment to the community,

0:22:330:22:38

having spent decades volunteering with the Brownies

0:22:380:22:41

and the Girl Guide movement.

0:22:410:22:43

Dorothy, as a very experienced Brown Owl,

0:22:440:22:48

organised many day activities, pack holidays, five-day visits,

0:22:480:22:54

exciting visits, even to London.

0:22:540:22:57

Dorothy loved to try different things

0:22:570:23:00

for the Brownies to get absolutely all they could.

0:23:000:23:05

And that way, they gained confidence

0:23:050:23:08

and felt they really did belong to the Guiding family.

0:23:080:23:11

According to Ann, whenever Dorothy was out and about,

0:23:110:23:14

the local girls, now grown up, would always recognise her

0:23:140:23:18

and stop and say hello to their former Brown Owl.

0:23:180:23:22

It was a legacy anyone would be proud of.

0:23:220:23:25

I would like Dorothy to be remembered for the caring

0:23:250:23:29

she gave to hundreds of girls over an awful lot of years

0:23:290:23:34

and she did it all with such loyal intent to the Guide movement.

0:23:340:23:40

After her death, it appeared Dorothy had no living relatives

0:23:400:23:44

who would be entitled to inherit her estate,

0:23:440:23:47

despite the fact it seemed she'd lived with her grandson.

0:23:470:23:50

Anna Dunn, from heir-hunting company, DS Researchers...

0:23:530:23:57

It's quite a delicate case, isn't it?

0:23:570:24:00

..was trying her hardest to get to the bottom of it all.

0:24:000:24:04

It turned out the grandson had been adopted out of the family.

0:24:040:24:07

So I did have to explain to him that the law was quite clear.

0:24:080:24:12

Any children that were adopted out of that family lose all entitlement.

0:24:120:24:17

As Dorothy's grandson was no longer part of the family,

0:24:180:24:22

he could not legally inherit.

0:24:220:24:24

But nor could anyone else,

0:24:240:24:26

as Dorothy's family tree showed she had no other living relatives.

0:24:260:24:29

It looked like this estate was destined for the Treasury's coffers.

0:24:290:24:33

But in the electoral roll Anna had researched,

0:24:350:24:39

the grandson, Jamie, was listed as a Warcup

0:24:390:24:42

and as living with his father, Mark, and grandmother, Dorothy.

0:24:420:24:46

It seemed despite Jamie's adoption, they were still family ties.

0:24:460:24:50

Ties Anna couldn't ignore.

0:24:500:24:52

I managed to find Jamie's phone number and managed to contact him

0:24:520:24:57

and he confirmed that he had actually been adopted.

0:24:570:25:01

He also confirmed he'd been aware of everything

0:25:010:25:03

that was going on with his grandmother's estate.

0:25:030:25:06

The police knocked at the door and told me that she had passed away

0:25:070:25:10

and asked if I could contact the next-door neighbour

0:25:100:25:14

for arrangements and stuff, so that's what I did.

0:25:140:25:17

That's how I found out Dorothy had died.

0:25:170:25:19

Jamie had in fact known his grandmother well.

0:25:210:25:24

And Anna discovered his adoption had followed

0:25:240:25:27

the separation of his mother and late father, Mark.

0:25:270:25:30

I was two when my mum and dad actually split up.

0:25:310:25:35

My mum found a new partner, which is now my adopted father.

0:25:350:25:40

So Jamie hadn't been adopted completely out of the family,

0:25:420:25:45

as he was still raised by his birth mother.

0:25:450:25:48

But aged 16, Jamie made a decision about his family life.

0:25:480:25:52

After arguments at home, he moved out

0:25:520:25:54

and this motivated him to track down the biological family

0:25:540:25:58

he had never really known.

0:25:580:26:00

I was curious about what he'd be like, what my real dad would be like.

0:26:000:26:04

So that's why I went looking.

0:26:040:26:07

From memory and what his mother had told him,

0:26:070:26:10

Jamie had a rough idea of the location of Dorothy's house.

0:26:100:26:14

I knew the street they lived on, but I didn't know much about

0:26:140:26:17

where they lived, so I started knocking door-to-door.

0:26:170:26:20

I knocked on about 30 or 40 properties

0:26:200:26:21

before I actually got to the house which I was looking for.

0:26:210:26:25

Despite not having seen his grandparents

0:26:250:26:27

or his biological father, Mark, for most of his life,

0:26:270:26:29

Jamie was invited in and made to feel welcome.

0:26:290:26:33

A very different situation to now.

0:26:330:26:37

It does seem a bit sad, knowing that nobody's in there

0:26:370:26:40

because everybody has passed away that did live in there.

0:26:400:26:43

It's a bit sad looking at it from the outside,

0:26:430:26:46

when it used to have so many memories inside.

0:26:460:26:49

After his initial meeting with his family,

0:26:490:26:52

it took just a matter of weeks before Jamie was invited to move in.

0:26:520:26:56

He discovered he and his father, Mark, had similar interests

0:26:560:27:00

and specifically, Hull FC.

0:27:000:27:02

We used to come every Friday night, whenever the match was at home.

0:27:020:27:06

I have loved it since I can remember

0:27:060:27:09

and he said he was the same, as a kid.

0:27:090:27:12

Whenever I went around, he showed me all these old programmes

0:27:120:27:15

from Wembley, when KR beat us and stuff.

0:27:150:27:18

Coming back to the places Jamie and Mark used to visit together

0:27:190:27:22

brings home to Jamie just how cut short his father's life was.

0:27:220:27:27

Yes, I do miss my dad.

0:27:270:27:30

We didn't have time to build a big relationship.

0:27:300:27:33

The relationship we had was good while it lasted.

0:27:330:27:36

But unfortunately, he's passed away now.

0:27:360:27:39

Jamie spent five years living with Mark, Jack and Dorothy

0:27:410:27:44

and informally started using his original Warcup surname.

0:27:440:27:48

And it was the fact Jamie had re-established this close contact

0:27:490:27:53

with his blood family that was going to change everything

0:27:530:27:56

in Anna's heir hunt.

0:27:560:27:58

In exceptional circumstances,

0:27:580:28:00

the Crown does sometimes award what is called a discretionary grant.

0:28:000:28:05

I felt in this case that Jamie did have those exceptional circumstances.

0:28:050:28:11

The fact that he actually lived with his father and grandmother

0:28:110:28:17

at the property together, not when he was young,

0:28:170:28:22

but when he was in his 20s.

0:28:220:28:24

That showed that he was part of that family for whatever reason.

0:28:240:28:29

He even went by his birth name,

0:28:290:28:33

which again is unusual for someone who's been adopted.

0:28:330:28:38

Anna let Jamie know her plan.

0:28:380:28:40

Having been resigned to getting nothing from the estate,

0:28:400:28:43

Jamie is pleased and is willing to take up the fight on his behalf.

0:28:430:28:48

Because I moved back in when I was 16-years-old

0:28:490:28:51

and spent time with them and lived with them and got to know the people they were,

0:28:510:28:56

then yes, I think I'm entitled to it more than the government.

0:28:560:28:59

Obviously, with me being adopted, that wasn't my choice.

0:28:590:29:02

That got decided for me by the judge in the Crown Court.

0:29:020:29:06

Anna's task now is to put together a claim for the Treasury

0:29:070:29:11

that explains the circumstances surrounding Jamie

0:29:110:29:14

and his grandmother Dorothy's estate.

0:29:140:29:17

But it's not just circumstances that will matter.

0:29:170:29:20

It's also having the right paperwork.

0:29:200:29:23

So they will be ready for picking up at some stage?

0:29:230:29:27

Birth, death and marriage certificates

0:29:270:29:29

will mean everything in this case, to prove to the Treasury

0:29:290:29:33

the clear link between Jamie, Mark and, ultimately, Dorothy.

0:29:330:29:37

Anna sends her travelling heir hunter, Peter,

0:29:370:29:40

to Hull Register Office.

0:29:400:29:44

I am looking for some certificates for Warcup.

0:29:440:29:47

There should be three in total.

0:29:470:29:49

Thank you very much. Thank you. Bye.

0:29:490:29:51

Peter is collecting Jamie's birth certificate

0:29:530:29:56

and both Mark's birth and marriage certificates.

0:29:560:29:59

This is the ammunition Anna will need.

0:29:590:30:02

Mark's birth certificate and marriage certificate

0:30:020:30:05

are absolutely crucial in this case because they link Jamie

0:30:050:30:09

through to his grandmother, Dorothy, who is the deceased in this case.

0:30:090:30:15

Back in the office, Anna is taking legal advice

0:30:170:30:20

on how best to submit the claim to the Treasury.

0:30:200:30:23

She describes the ins and outs of Jamie's situation

0:30:230:30:26

and gets some positive feedback.

0:30:260:30:29

The solicitor does feel that it is an exceptional case

0:30:290:30:34

and maybe the Crown might use its discretion and allow it,

0:30:340:30:40

which would be good because he's lost his father and his grandmother.

0:30:400:30:45

So it is quite a sad case

0:30:450:30:48

and it would be nice if there was a favourable result.

0:30:480:30:54

Over two months pass in an anxious wait for news,

0:30:560:31:00

but at last, Anna has some.

0:31:000:31:02

It's not definitive but it's positive enough

0:31:020:31:05

for her to invite Jamie and his partner, Kelly, back for a meeting.

0:31:050:31:09

-Hello. Come in.

-Thank you.

-Are you all right?

-Yes, fine thank you.

0:31:090:31:14

Anna that brings them up to speed on what the Treasury has said.

0:31:140:31:18

They've basically said to us,

0:31:180:31:21

"We're going to administer the estate".

0:31:210:31:23

So although they haven't said yes or no,

0:31:230:31:27

they're gathering in all the assets now

0:31:270:31:30

and then they will say, "We'll give you a percentage of this."

0:31:300:31:34

Or they will give you a bigger percentage and say,

0:31:340:31:38

"We'll keep the little percentage."

0:31:380:31:40

They wouldn't have done that

0:31:400:31:42

-unless that what we've sent to them has some merit in it.

-Yes.

0:31:420:31:46

Put it this way, I shall be surprised if they turn around and say no.

0:31:460:31:51

I would be very surprised, because they're going through

0:31:510:31:55

an awful lot of work to turn around and say no.

0:31:550:31:59

-I understand what you are saying.

-Good.

0:31:590:32:01

-Thank you Anna.

-Goodbye.

0:32:010:32:04

Yet again, it's a waiting game for Jamie but along with Anna,

0:32:040:32:08

he is in a positive frame of mind.

0:32:080:32:11

I am feeling hopeful, yes, because it sounds like we've got a case.

0:32:110:32:15

Anna will keep me informed so we'll see where we go from here.

0:32:150:32:19

Everything is now in the Treasury's hands

0:32:190:32:22

and their decision will have a big impact on Jamie's life.

0:32:220:32:25

He and his partner, Kelly, are expecting a child

0:32:250:32:28

and the financial implication of him being considered

0:32:280:32:31

Dorothy's legitimate heir speaks for itself.

0:32:310:32:33

And Jamie's hoping a successful result from the Treasury

0:32:330:32:37

means he'd get something to remember his grandmother by.

0:32:370:32:41

This appeal is less about the money than it is possessions.

0:32:410:32:45

All I've got is a few photos from the house. It's a lot to do with the memories, not the money.

0:32:450:32:50

In London, heir hunting company Fraser & Fraser

0:32:540:32:58

are investigating the case of Margaret Snare.

0:32:580:33:01

She died in her home aged 85.

0:33:010:33:04

Margaret passed away in February 2010 with no known relatives

0:33:040:33:09

and leaving no will.

0:33:090:33:12

According to the neighbours, she led a reclusive, solitary life.

0:33:120:33:16

Her estate was referred by a solicitor to the company,

0:33:160:33:21

but they now have discovered it's also been handed to the Treasury.

0:33:210:33:25

I'm just going to do another enquiry on it.

0:33:250:33:27

They want to track down Margaret's heirs before the estate goes public.

0:33:270:33:32

An estate the office believe could be made up mainly from Margaret's home.

0:33:320:33:36

Researcher Esher has spent the last week

0:33:370:33:40

putting together the family tree.

0:33:400:33:42

No, that's wrong.

0:33:420:33:44

Senior case manager, Tony Pledger, is now up to speed on the research.

0:33:440:33:50

So we have that the deceased had certainly one, two, three,

0:33:500:33:54

four, five, six full siblings.

0:33:540:33:56

The research has unearthed a complex family history.

0:33:560:34:00

Margaret's mother, Mabel, appears to have married three times.

0:34:000:34:04

Her second marriage, to Frederick King, produced seven children,

0:34:040:34:08

including Margaret.

0:34:080:34:09

But her sister and heir, Betty,

0:34:090:34:12

told Bob Barett there were originally nine children.

0:34:120:34:15

Esher discovered the additional two children

0:34:150:34:18

were from Mabel's first marriage.

0:34:180:34:19

But as half-blood siblings,

0:34:190:34:21

they wouldn't be entitled to inherit on this estate.

0:34:210:34:25

The potential half-blood ones aren't going to come into it anyway.

0:34:250:34:28

And the revelations from Betty kept on coming.

0:34:300:34:33

All her life, she'd been led to believe by her father

0:34:330:34:36

that her mother had died in the Blitz.

0:34:360:34:39

Perhaps as a consequence of her mother's disappearance,

0:34:390:34:42

Betty and her siblings had spent part of their childhood in a Barnardo's home.

0:34:420:34:46

But the office's research has turned up a contradictory family history.

0:34:460:34:53

'They've now found another estranged sister of Betty's

0:34:530:34:56

'who confirmed what the team have learned from Mabel's death certificate,

0:34:560:35:01

'that she didn't die in the war but in 1960.

0:35:010:35:04

'This is something Betty and her grandson, Andrew, are now trying to digest.'

0:35:040:35:09

I think today has really opened up my eyes

0:35:090:35:14

especially when we were told that your mother may have actually died in the 1960s.

0:35:140:35:19

For someone who has been told since she was a young girl that she died, certainly hit home to me.

0:35:190:35:26

The first you found out about your sister Margaret dying,

0:35:260:35:30

is when you received a phone call yesterday.

0:35:300:35:32

-Yes.

-You have already told me that it upset you.

-It did, yes.

0:35:320:35:36

'Even though a lot of the family background is a mystery,

0:35:430:35:46

'through their research into birth and marriage records, the heir hunters

0:35:460:35:50

'do know exactly where Margaret and Betty's parents lived as a family.'

0:35:500:35:55

'Whitfield Street is in the centre of London, just off Tottenham Court Road.

0:35:590:36:04

'Back in the early 20th century,

0:36:040:36:07

'it was a typical working-class area of London.

0:36:070:36:10

'All seven of the King children were born whilst the family were registered at this address.

0:36:100:36:17

'Father Frederick King was listed as a goods porter

0:36:170:36:21

'at the world-famous St Pancras railway station.

0:36:210:36:24

'Unfortunately, this family setup completely changed by the time of the Second World War.'

0:36:240:36:30

If parents were unable or unwilling to care for their children,

0:36:300:36:34

then the local authority would have placed children

0:36:340:36:37

either in foster homes or institutions like Dr Barnardo's.

0:36:370:36:42

Places like Dr Barnardo's did really become caring agencies.

0:36:420:36:46

Their role in wartime was a more acute one.

0:36:460:36:50

'The King family's children were told their mother had died in the war.

0:36:500:36:55

'Despite this now being proved untrue,

0:36:550:36:58

'it was highly believable for the time.'

0:36:580:37:00

The Blitz was a time of enormous chaos and confusion.

0:37:000:37:04

There are very heartrending stories of people in the East End

0:37:040:37:09

trying to find their children and relations.

0:37:090:37:13

'The fact Frederick King told his children that their mother had died

0:37:130:37:17

'could be because he couldn't face telling them she'd left him.

0:37:170:37:22

'Then, when the war broke out, Frederick, not been able to cope,

0:37:220:37:25

'put the children into a Barnardo's home.

0:37:250:37:28

'After experiencing such upheaval in their early years,

0:37:280:37:32

'it is no wonder that Betty and her siblings grew apart.'

0:37:320:37:35

That seems to be evidence of the sort of destruction

0:37:350:37:40

on dislocation that war cause.

0:37:400:37:42

People really did lose track of each other

0:37:420:37:45

and families became completely splintered.

0:37:450:37:48

'It's now the second day of the heir hunt

0:37:550:37:58

'and researcher Gareth is getting his head around the repercussions

0:37:580:38:03

'of yesterday's revelation about Margaret's mother, Mabel.

0:38:030:38:07

'Betty's family knowledge may have been fairly limited

0:38:070:38:11

'but it has given the heir hunters some leads into another older sister called Elizabeth.

0:38:110:38:17

'Betty can vaguely remember having two nephews.'

0:38:170:38:20

There seems to be a little confusion.

0:38:200:38:24

It looks like the last time the family got together was in the '50s,

0:38:240:38:28

and that's probably when the deceased's father, Frederick, died.

0:38:280:38:31

So, after that, they don't seem to have much contact.

0:38:310:38:34

'Despite the heirs they've managed to speak to not having detailed memories of their family setup,

0:38:340:38:39

'Esher and Gareth have still made good progress on the case.

0:38:390:38:43

'So far, the team has signed up two of Margaret's sisters.

0:38:430:38:48

'They've also discovered three of her brothers died, leaving no children.

0:38:480:38:53

'This leaves just the nephews to account for.

0:38:530:38:56

'They could be the last heirs entitled to inherit

0:38:560:38:59

'on what could be potentially be a valuable estate.'

0:38:590:39:03

The crucial bit of information we need on this is the death certificate of Elizabeth.

0:39:030:39:07

That would tell us the husband's name. Hopefully we should find out the marriage from that

0:39:070:39:12

and we will get a good informant, ideally one of the children.

0:39:120:39:15

And that will firm up on the address for them.

0:39:150:39:17

'Gareth gets a travelling heir hunter on the case.'

0:39:170:39:21

I think what we will do is get Dave Hadley there today.

0:39:210:39:23

'Whilst Dave Hadley goes to the register office,

0:39:230:39:27

'Gareth and Esher wait with bated breath.

0:39:270:39:29

'Elizabeth's death certificate is crucial to finding the last two heirs on this case.'

0:39:290:39:34

He is born as a Bright, yeah?

0:39:340:39:36

'Luckily, Dave Hadley has come through with the goods

0:39:360:39:40

'and it is exactly the result the team were hoping for.'

0:39:400:39:43

The informant is a daughter-in-law.

0:39:430:39:46

Phone to see which one it is, just to get an address for them.

0:39:460:39:50

I'll check that address first.

0:39:500:39:52

'Using the daughter-in-law's name, Esher scours the marriage records and discovers the eldest nephew.

0:39:520:39:57

'The younger nephew, Michael, is traced minutes later.'

0:39:570:40:03

So, luckily, we've got Michael on the phone in Chatham

0:40:030:40:08

which is good because that is where Dave Hadley is now.

0:40:080:40:12

I need to get it up on the computer so he can access it

0:40:120:40:15

and then he can go and interview Michael to see what he knows about the family.

0:40:150:40:20

'Later that afternoon, Dave Hadley met

0:40:200:40:23

'and got an agreement from nephew Michael.

0:40:230:40:27

'Would he be able to shed light on his grandmother's mysterious wartime disappearance?

0:40:270:40:31

'Seemingly not.

0:40:310:40:33

'The family tree showing his aunts and uncles came as news to him.

0:40:330:40:37

'Family was something his late mother, Elizabeth, had never discussed.'

0:40:370:40:41

She was very, very secretive about everything she did.

0:40:410:40:44

As far as I know, my family,

0:40:440:40:47

my mother was a small family on her own, that was it.

0:40:470:40:51

She said once that my grandfather on her side

0:40:510:40:56

came down to visit us.

0:40:560:41:00

I was about three so I knew nothing about it.

0:41:000:41:03

She mentioned that she never got on with her father

0:41:030:41:07

through one thing or another again, that is as far as that goes.

0:41:070:41:12

'Michael, now in his 60s, considers these revelations about his wider family as interesting

0:41:120:41:18

'but that's as far as it goes.

0:41:180:41:22

I mean, for me, they are strangers.

0:41:220:41:25

I've got their names, when they were born and when they died.

0:41:250:41:30

But, to me that's all it is, names. If I had been 20 or 30 years younger,

0:41:300:41:35

I might have been, you know... My family is now cast.

0:41:350:41:42

'Unfortunately, Michael is unable to clear up any of the mystery

0:41:420:41:47

'surrounding his grandmother Mabel.

0:41:470:41:50

'Even sadder is the fact that Frederick, Mabel and their children

0:41:500:41:57

'weren't alone in having their world turned upside down by the Blitz.'

0:41:570:42:01

The circumstances of war meant that some people really did become strangers

0:42:010:42:05

and those family bonds were never able to be re-established even after the war.

0:42:050:42:09

'Being contacted out of the blue and being told you're an heir

0:42:090:42:13

'to an estranged relative's estate, can be an unsettling experience.

0:42:130:42:17

'For the heir hunters, they try and do their work with as much tact and understanding as possible.

0:42:170:42:24

'For Betty and her grandson. Andrew, the events of the past few days

0:42:240:42:28

'bring home just how fragile families can be.'

0:42:280:42:31

One event, one tragic event can break families up.

0:42:310:42:37

And as time goes on, it becomes more difficult to take that first step

0:42:370:42:43

to contact each other again because from there you can explore further.

0:42:430:42:49

Who knows what you might find?

0:42:490:42:51

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:43:130:43:16

The heir hunters are trying to find relatives of Margaret Snare, who died aged 85 in 2010. During their investigations, the team uncover a family history that does not add up. Did Margaret's mother Mabel really die in the Blitz?

Plus, the case of Dorothy Warcup is not as straight forward as it first appears. The heir hunters try and help a blood relative in their quest to inherit Dorothy's estate.

Finally, details of unclaimed estates where heirs still need to be found.


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