The work of a probate genealogist, for those who haven’t seen the programme, involves tracing missing or unknown beneficiaries to a person’s estate when that person has died intestate, without making a will.

Padraic Grennan, business development manager with the company, says that although there is much overlap in cases in the UK and Ireland, there is differing legislation and crucial differences in the way the State handles intestate cases here.

In the UK, the Bona Vacantia, a list of unclaimed estates, is published by the treasury. Probate genealogists work from it, often racing to be the first to find the heirs. No such list is published in Ireland.

If a person dies intestate here, his or her estate is supposed to go to the next of kin, based on rules set down in the Succession Act 1965. The estate goes to probate and the court appoints an administrator to disperse it.

If no next of kin is found and no claim on the estate is made within 15 years, all monies and any property automatically go to the State. Between 2006 and 2012, €2.8 million went to the State in this way.

Source: Where there’s no will, there’s still a way to find heirs to estates