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Missing Beneficiaries?

Unknown Heirs?
Convoluted Entitlements?

How Can We Help?

Effective Genealogical Research

Established in 1991, Probate Genealogists Payton & Tate have been identifying and locating missing and unknown beneficiaries worldwide, for more than a quarter of a century

“Research Experience Matters”

Probate Genealogists

Probate Genealogists (sometimes called “Forensic Genealogists”) exist to resolve estate matters involving missing or unknown beneficiaries and next-of-kin. Probate Genealogy combines the research skills of the genealogist; some aspects of private investigation; and an expert knowledge of estate succession and distribution law.

The cases undertaken can range from the location of a beneficiary named in a Will, who has since moved, to the reversion of a life interest in a trust fund, or the resolution of a complex intestacy, involving perhaps more than a hundred individual heirs, in many different countries. Within this range, there fall many variations, each as unique as the individual families involved. Similarly, the values of the estates and the individual entitlements can range from tens to hundreds of thousands of pounds.


The Probate Genealogist’s duties do not end with the location of the heirs. There is no point in simply finding or not finding people. The Administrator of the estate must be put into a position where the shares due to the beneficiaries can be calculated, and the estate safely distributed to the kin. This end can only be achieved once the known heirs are proved to be correct, the full extent of the families involved is known, and the possibility of a claim from any remaining missing, untraceable or unknown heirs, is covered by an insurance indemnity. It is these further stages that often call for the greatest amount of time and skill, in their resolution

Estate Problems We Can Assist With

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Missing Beneficiaries

The administration of an intestate estate may require full family trees to be researched and relevant beneficiaries identified and located.

Insurance Indemnities

Regardless of ‘family knowledge’, or indeed appropriate research, there may exist risks of claims from missing or unknown kin on intestacy. There may also be the possibility of a will ‘turning-up’ after an estate has been distributed as intestate – leading to a potential claim.

Certificates & Records

Our in-house holdings of national indexes and extensive database access enable us to provide an efficient and effective service with regard to obtaining records such as Birth, Marriage and Death certificates.


Executors may often find that letters sent to legatees named in a Will, are returned marked “Gone-Away”, or “Deceased”. We can help.

Statutory Will

An application for the execution of a statutory will on behalf of a patient lacking testamentary capacity, may result in a need to establish the persons who would be entitled to share in the patient’s estate under the intestacy rules.

Claim Verification

Administrators may on occasion receive claims from persons claiming to be related to a particular deceased, but unable to prove that relationship. Others may claim a relationship that, whilst supported by documentation, may not “ring true”, for a variety of reasons..

About Us

Although founded in 1991, Payton & Tate’s origins stem from June 1921 when, following his retirement from the Indian Army, Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Aquilla Smith established “The Advisory Agency”, at 8 Lower Regent Street, London. Using his past contacts in the intelligence branches of the army, he undertook various investigative assignments. However, by July of 1922, he was working with the “Transatlantic Estates and Credit Company” of Portland, Oregon, investigating intestate estates where the beneficiaries were unknown.

In 1924, the offices were moved to Kings Bench Walk, in the Temple, where they remained until the 1940’s, when the move was made to Knightsbridge. Alfred Smith died in 1930, following which the business was taken over by his son, Charles Aquilla Vincent Smith who ran the firm, from then named “Alfred A Smith & Son”, until his death.

The transfer of the business to the then existing management team of Charles Payton (since retired from the firm) and John Tate, brought a change in direction; expanding in-house research capabilities and extending the number and variety of services offered to our professional clients.

That continuing adaptation and integration of information technology and new research methods and resources continues today, albeit grounded on the knowledge and experience gained over the years.

A Few of Our Past Cases

Every case we handle is as different as are the families involved – there is no “standard” matter. Some matters do however stand-out as being of particular interest and illustrative of the diversity of what we do
£1,000,000+ Insurance Indemnities
Insurance indemnities can be difficult to arrange for higher valued estates. However, in 2009 we were able to obtain missing beneficiary and missing will insurance – each with a limit of indemnity of £2.3 million.
The Lost World War II Airman
Following a newspaper appeal by the Ministry of Defence, for relatives of a WWII airman, whose body had only recently been found; we located his son, within a day. (This was dealt with pro bono)
200+ Beneficiaries
Ida R died in 1995, without leaving a valid will. Following research by Payton & Tate, some 210 beneficiaries and beneficial interests were identified – which we believe may have been the largest number of heirs on an English intestacy.
Fraud Averted

Having been initially instructed to locate the kin of an intestate – some months  after having done so, it was a surprise to learn that a will had suddenly ‘turned-up’.

Learning that the person presenting the will (the undertaker who had dealt with the deceased’s funeral) was also executor and a major beneficiary started ‘alarm bells’ ringing – especially when we researched further and found that both witnesses to the deceased’s purported will were themselves dead and that their funerals had been arranged by the same undertaker.
Copies of the witnesses own wills were obtained – bearing different signatures to those on the deceased’s will and a handwriting expert was consulted. Our own involvement ended at that stage. We however understand that the undertaker did not go-on to Inherit!

Contact Us

Initial reviews of new estate-research maters are  carried-out free-of-charge. Please contact using the enquiry form to the right, or by any of the methods shown below.

Kinedart House
New Barn Road

+44 1474 878830