England and Wales have 8,001 unclaimed estates as of August 23rd 2020 – The unclaimed estates are estimated to be worth around £1.2 billion, with London contributing 30.7% of the total unclaimed figure.
When somebody with no written will, or any known family, their estate is then passed over to the Crown under the term ‘bona vacantia.’ A person’s estate is usually made up of money, property, or personal effects.
To be eligible to make a claim on an estate, certain criteria must be met.
If the person has left no will, their spouse or children have the first claim on their estate. In the event of no spouse or children, any person who is directly descended from a grandparent of the deceased has the right to make a claim for a share of the estate. This includes siblings, parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Claim seekers who are related to the person via marriage are not entitled to claim for the estate. E.g. Mother-in-law or brother-in-law.
When it comes to adopted relatives, they will have the same rights and stake to a claim of an estate as blood relatives, and vice versa – only the adoptive family can make a claim on the estate if the person who died was adopted. But it is good to note that adopted people have no rights to the estate of any of their original birth family.
However, if some are not a direct relative there may still be a way to put in a claim for the estate – for example, if they lived with or cared for the deceased.
To prove a claim on an estate, a claimant will have to show a family tree highlighting the relationship with the deceased and two pieces of identification. Birth, marriage, or death certificates may also be required.
The time limit to make a claim on an unclaimed estate is 30 years. If it is still unclaimed after this time frame, the estate then becomes permanent property of the Crown and the Treasury.
Forbes Solicitors – specialists in wills and estates, analysed the current unclaimed estates in England and Wales to find out the total values and a regional breakdown of the estates.
Tom Howcroft, Partner at Forbes Solicitors, said: “Some people might not know that they are sitting on a goldmine. These 8,000 people will have relatives, somewhere, they just need to be found.
“Wherever you are in the country, there are millions of pounds sitting unclaimed. A lot of potential beneficiaries don’t claim because they think it would be a difficult task, but we try and make the process as seamless as we possibly can.”
|Number of Unclaimed Estates
|% of total unclaimed
|Estimated average Value of unclaimed estates in the area
|East of England
|Yorkshire and Humber
The London region has the highest percentage of unclaimed estates at 30.7%. The 2441 estates in the capital are worth an estimated £366 million. In Wales there are 328 unclaimed estates, worth an estimated £49 million.
The North West area has the least amount of unclaimed estates at only 2.2%, but the 186 estates are still worth around £28 million.
To find out if there is an estate to claim on, visit the Government website to download the unclaimed estates list. Contact specialists like Forbes who are here to assist with claims.
For more advice on claiming a will or estate, visit https://www.forbessolicitors.co.uk/