With the season of giving and receiving very much upon us, the government’s latest figures on unclaimed estates in the UK is at 14,334.
In other words, one in 4468 of us are entitled to an estate. Are you one of them?
If your surname is Smith, then it could be quite likely – 306 of the estates are under that name. Jones (207 estates), Brown (123), Williams (120) and Taylor (111) make up the rest of the top five most frequent family names.
But prospect aren’t so good for those with the surnames Barraclough, Gerrard and Whittall, who all sit at the bottom of the list, with only a single entry each.
Even if your potential unclaimed estate is from decades ago, it’s still worth taking a look. While 2015 understably tops the list of estate with a dated death of owner, the second most frequent is 1989, with 17 appearances. That time around the turn of the decade is a fertile period for unclaimed estates with 1992, 1993 and 1995 making up the rest of the top five.
It should be noted, however, that if the estate isn’t claimed within 12 years, it will go to the Treasury, becoming Crown property. But it might be possible to claim some part of the estate for up to 30 years in special circumstances.
Beware of using professional estate-hunting firms, however, as they often charge high commissions – some reportedly claiming 40% of the estate to cover their research costs.
Bona Vacantia - Estates, the government department tasked with dealing with estates cannot tell you if you are related to any person whose estate appears on the list.
Claimants are responsible for identifying their relationship to the deceased and then to submit documentary evidence, including ID documents, to prove that relationship.
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