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Are You Entitled to Money from the Estate of a Distant Relative?

What are you entitled to?

Do you think finding out that you’ve inherited money from a distant relative sounds too good to be true? Well, in fact, it sounds like a scam.

However, every year, there are hundreds of people in the UK without leaving a Will and simply, their relatives can’t be traced. In a recent news item, it revealed that there were 125 with links to the city of Bristol alone.

If you can prove you are indeed a distant relative, then you could be in line to inherit your distant relations estate. What’s more, it’s quite simple and only takes a couple of minutes to find out.

Unclaimed estates are administered by the Bona Vacantia Division (BVD) of the Government Legal Department. This division updates the list regularly which you can download it from the UK Government website as a spreadsheet.

You may ask……”So how does it work, and how can I make a claim?”

When someone dies without leaving a Will, the order of priority of people who can make a claim is as follows (reproduced from the UK Government website):

  1. Husband, wife or civil partner
  2. Children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and so on
  3. Mother or father
  4. Brothers or sisters who share both the same mother and father, or their children (nieces and nephews)
  5. Half brothers or sisters or their children (nieces and nephews of the half blood or their children). ‘Half ’ means they share only one parent with the deceased
  6. Grandparents
  7. Uncles and aunts or their children (first cousins or their descendants)
  8. Half uncles and aunts or their children (first cousins of the half blood or their children). ‘Half’ means they only share one grandparent with the deceased, not both

You would only be entitled to a share of the estate if there is nobody above you in the list.

What to do next…

Having found someone on the unclaimed estates list to whom you think you’re a distant relative, your first step would be to send BVD your family tree.

Then, you will need to show how you’re related to the person who has died. Your family tree has to include dates of birth, marriage and death for everyone on the tree.

It is clearly a lot of work for you and you may wish to engage the services of a genealogist to help. However, you’re under no obligation to use a genealogist if you don’t want to this yourself.

If BVD believes that you could be entitled to claim, it will ask for documentary evidence. This will include; full birth and marriage certificates of everyone between you and the deceased, along with identification documents. Only at this point when your claim has been accepted will you be told the value of the estate.

Note: It’s also worth pointing out that there’s a time limit on making a claim. BVD will accept claims up to 12 years from when administration of the estate was complete, paying interest on the money held. However, claims can also be submitted up to 30 years since administration was completed, although in this instance you’re not entitled to any interest.

There’s a much easier way of ensuring that your estate gets to the people you want to benefit, and that is to make a Will!

For more information on cost-effective wills, and the options available for setting up trusts, simon@simonhall.info on 01392 540 996.

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