The basic principle is: “No result, No fee.” We feel that this is the best way of doing business.
Our fee depends on our success in finding heirs, proving their claim and recovering their share in an estate. The fee is a percentage of the amount each heir receives and is deducted by the administrator, then sent to us when the heirs we represent are paid.
In the event that we do not find any heirs, then we provide the originator with an affidavit of search at no cost to them.
Other firms may wish to charge fixed hourly rates. We think this is bad for members of the public who are potential beneficiaries for the simple reason that most cases dealt with by the Public Administrator are in the £5,000 – £15,000 range. Therefore, if we spend days, weeks, months, or even years tracing lawful kin, a fixed hourly fee could eliminate any amount left for our beneficiaries. Fixed fees, which we outline below, are only appropriate when we are engaged by a firm of solicitors with a specific and defined task to keep control of costs.
A percentage fee, based on a proportion of the estate value, ensures that the majority of the net estate will be distributed to lawful beneficiaries. Our fees vary, depending on the difficulty of the case, how closely the deceased was related to our heirs, and what we estimate the value of the estate to be. An average industry fee is approximately 25%, but this may be higher or lower depending on the merits of the case. In many cases, the percentage fee is split between two or more firms cooperating together on a case, so this is another factor that determines the size of our fee.
Sometimes a case can cover our costs, or even be profitable, but at other times we could lose money even if we are successful! We bear the risk in every case by taking a contingency fee, whereas a fixed hourly rate shifts the risk to the beneficiary… and we don’t think passing that risk to the public is right.