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Simon Hall Will Writing & Estate Planning Services

Unclaimed Estates – Are you entitled to money from a relative?

Prevent your legacy from being part of the many Unclaimed Estates today by having a professional Will in place that delivers peace of mind. This blog outlines what happens when heirs of an Estate cannot be found…

Who oversees Unclaimed Estates?

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 who pass away without leaving a Will and simply, their relatives can’t be traced. In a recent news item, it revealed that there were 125 such cases with links to the city of Bristol alone.

If a person can prove that they are indeed a distant relative, then may be in line to inherit from such an 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 can be downloaded from the UK Government website as a spreadsheet.

You may ask… “So how does it work, and how do potential beneficiaries 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); and
  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.

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.

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!

Call Simon Hall Will Writing Services today to arrange a convenient appointment to discuss your Estate. Call 01392 540 996.

Also read: Meet Simon Hall, Devon’s Award-Winning Will Writer, offering a bespoke service



Simon Hall Will Writing Services

Simon Hall Will Writing Services was started by Simon Hall in 2019 to provide our clients with peace of mind both now and in future. We offer Wills, Trusts, Lasting Power of Attorney and Probate.