Select Page




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.


Missing Heirs & Beneficiaries

The majority of the matters we deal with, are concerned with the identification and location of blood-heirs to intestate estates. Every estate is as different as the families it concerns. In one case we may simply be looking for a sibling who has simply lost contact with the deceased’s family over the years; in another case, we might be tracing the descendants of a large Victorian family, leading to a hundred or more beneficiaries, spread all over the world. With our experience and resources, we are able to provide effective and correct solutions to virtually all problems that may be encountered in an unknown or missing heir situation; locating the beneficiaries, or assisting with other solutions, such as indemnity insurance, where the problem is irresolvable otherwise. Additionally; following the location of the beneficiaries; we can provide administration support services, with regard to distribution account drafting and correspondence with the various heirs.

Legatee “Gone-Away”

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

With this specific problem in mind, we have developed our fixed-fee “Locate” services, which can usually resolve these matters quickly and effectively.

Please contact us for further details, or to discuss a specific problem.

Certificates & Records

We provide an efficient and effective service with regard to obtaining the following UK records:

Birth Certificates
Marriage Certificates
Death Certificates
Adoption Certificates
Grants of Probate / Letters of Administration
Divorce – Decree Absolute
Land Registry Title Documents
Company Records

We are able to accept instructions to obtain copies of any of the above, by e-mail, telephone, or letter, from professional clients, on account. Please contact us for further information.

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 extent of the patient’s family, as parties who might be adversely affected by the will.

Although in some cases this might be straightforward, with close relatives all known; there can be circumstances where it is necessary to locate members of the wider family; perhaps with the issue of numerous uncles and aunts of the patient having to be identified and located.

In these circumstances, we can use our resources and experience to research the relevant families and report-back as requested, or as may be ordered by the Court.

Indemnity Insurance

Regardless of the outcome of our research, in all but the most straightforward cases, we would recommend to an estate administrator that they obtain the protection of a Missing Beneficiary Indemnity (MBI) insurance, with regard to the possibility of future claims from previously unknown, or untraceable, kin.

We have long-standing relationships with the majority of the insurers and underwriters in this specialised field, and are well placed to obtain quotations for suitable insurance cover, once our own research is complete. (All cover is written as an addition to appropriate research – not a substitute.)

An appropriate policy will cover the personal representative, and any beneficiary who has received a share in an estate, against claims by or through any beneficiary missing or unknown at the time of distribution.
The policy is charged at a single premium, and the cover is open-ended. The actual cost of the insurance will depend on the limit of indemnity required, and the insurers’ view of the risks involved.

Any premium in respect of Missing Beneficiary Indemnity Insurance is usually paid as an expense of the estate.

In addition to Missing Beneficiary Indemnities, we can often arrange cover against a Will ‘

Payton & Tate is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, in respect of non-investment insurance mediation activities. Our FCA Register number is 308975.

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.

In all such cases, we can obtain and review documentation and records in support (or otherwise) of the claim, and report appropriately.

All enquiries, as with all matters we deal with, would be carried out discretely and in strictest confidence.


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.

Kinedart, New Barn Road, Longfield, Kent DA3 7JF
Tel: 01474 878830

Use of this website is subject to acceptance of our website terms and conditions, here