You could be “sitting on a goldmine”, with more than 200 estates of people who died in the North East waiting to be claimed.
When somebody with no written will, or any known family, dies, their estate is passed to the Crown. Relations then have the right to make a claim for a share of the estate.
The time limit to make a claim is 30 years, so some of the unclaimed estates in the North East date back years.
If an estate is still unclaimed after 30 years, it becomes permanent property of the Crown and the Treasury.
There were 233 unclaimed estates belonging to people from the North East as of October 15 – and 24 have been added to the list kept by the Government so far this year.
- George Ernest Linsley, born on January 14, 1949, who died on August 26, 2020, in Sunderland
- Kathleen Peacock, born on March 19, 1926, in South Shields, who died on June 11, 2020, in South Shields
- Gerard Hugh Francis Cunningham, born on March 18, 1965, in Newcastle, who died on July 14, 2020, in Newcastle
- Joseph McIntyre, born on December 13, 1936, who died on April 28, 2020, in Hebburn
- Marjory Froggatt, who died on March 15, 1996, in Berwick.
The list of unclaimed estates is held by the Government’s Bona Vacantia Division and updated daily. A person’s estate is usually made up of money, property, or personal effects.
As of October 15, there were 7,853 unclaimed estates in England and Wales on the list.
Forbes Solicitors – specialists in wills and estates – analysed the list, and estimated that, with an average value of £150,000 per estate, £1.2bn could be waiting to be claimed.
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.”
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.
Adopted relatives 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, and adopted people have no rights to the estate of any of their original birth family.
However, someone who is not a direct relative may still be able to put in a claim for a grant from 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.