Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is this offer legitimate?

We understand how potential clients might be sceptical when they are unexpectedly offered found money. We do our utmost to allay people’s fears. We highly recommend that you solicit your lawyer’s opinion on our proposal. T.D. Howes & Co. Ltd. is a member in good standing of the Better Business Bureau.

For further validation, we attach the following media reports.

Phone Call Opens Bridge to Past – George Gamester, Toronto Star
The Chase for Leftover Fortunes – Diane Francis, Maclean’s Magazine
Heir-Search Firms Help to Keep it in the Family – Rachel Emma Silverman, Wall Street Journal
Finders Keepers – Gordon Donaldson, The Financial Post Magazine

2. Who asked you to conduct this research?

Our expertise is required by lawyers, trust officers, or estate executors and administrators who have estates in which the heirs are either unknown or missing. Such persons are sometimes named in a Will but said Will includes no information on the beneficiary’s identity other than the individual’s name. Wills are often written several years before they are probated, so the beneficiary can be difficult to find and identify. Indeed, we must sometimes determine whether the named beneficiary is deceased. We must then provide proof of their death so their share of the estate can be properly distributed. If no will exists, we locate blood relations who are entitled to inherit as per the inheritance laws of the jurisdiction where the decedent resided.

3. Are you certain you have the right person?

We have searched for thousands of individuals over the past quarter century. Although, our research often takes a very tangled path with many false leads and blind alleys, once we write to the potential beneficiary, we’re certain that we have contacted the correct person. This is because our research involves multiple cross-referencing of sources that ultimately lead to the same individual.

4. What is expected of me?

Attempting to fill in the various branches, we might ask you a few questions regarding your family tree. We will also require proof of your identity in order to verify your legitimacy and satisfy the estate administrator. The document necessary to prove identity is a “long form” or “genealogical” birth registration. This document will list your parents’ names. If necessary, we will help you obtain this document.

5. How long before the estate is settled?

That is one of the most common questions and the most difficult to answer. Since we are working through the court system, much is beyond our control. In order to move our research forward in a timely manner, we anticipate the Probate Court (Wills and Estates) requirements and have relevant materials prepared as quickly as possible. We present this genealogical documentation in a clear, straightforward manner so the executor or administrator is able to make a quick determination. It generally takes six months for a simple estate to be probated. For a complicated estate, it can take a few years. T.D. Howes & Co. Ltd. receives no payment until the entire process is settled.

6. What will it cost me to receive the inheritance?

We do not ask you to pay us any money in advance. We are paid upon distribution of the estate. This means the Probate Court will have approved our research and documentation. The estate will then be ordered to distribute the funds to the beneficiaries. At that time we will receive our fee consisting of a negotiated percentage of the amount of the established inheritance. Included in our fee are all expenses incurred in proving your entitlement.

7. What if I decide not to claim the inheritance?

There are options available for you if you choose not to claim the inheritance. The Probate Courtt might distribute your share to the other heirs. Or the it might hold your funds for a few years, after which they will revert to the government in the jurisdiction where the decedent resided. A third option would be for you to sign over your share to a recognized charity. If you decide to do this, T.D. Howes & Co. Ltd. will waive its fee, the entire amount will therefore be donated to charity. Our company will also provide any relevant documentation or research to help effect the transfer of your inheritance to this charity.

Are You an Heir?