Bona Vacantia

Information you need to make a Bona Vacantia claim

If you’ve discovered that you’re entitled to inherit assets listed on the unclaimed estates register (bona vacantia), you’ll need to prove your relationship with the deceased. Here’s the evidence you’ll need to provide before you can make a claim.
 
A family tree to show how you’re related.
All birth and marriage certificates that support the link.
Proof of your identity
Proof of your address
 
If you don’t have the certificates you’ll need to obtain them from the local registrar’s office where the event took place.
 
Making a thorough application
The items listed above are the minimum supporting documents required. The Treasurer makes it clear that ‘The onus is on the claimant to satisfy us that they are entitled.’ Therefore, it is advisable to provide full, detailed information about your relationship with the deceased. This could include:
 
A written account of how you discovered and proved the link.
More supporting documents such as census data, military records.
Any other information about deceased person that you have found out such as their occupation or last known address.
 
What happens next?
It will take about 4 weeks for your claim to be processed. During this time, you may be contacted with further requests for information.
 
The Treasury solicitor’s office will examine your claim and verify the supporting evidence carefully before they accept it. It’s important that your supporting documents are accurate. Many claimants submit family trees that are inaccurate as certain family members have been missed-out. Cases are subsequently rejected so you may want to get yours professionally verified first.
 
If you’re in any doubt, call IWC Ltd on 0800 612 6105 for free advice from a professional probate genealogist.

Making a search for unclaimed estates

lgo tsol lrg Making a search for unclaimed estatesIt is possible that you have relatives that you’ve lost touch with over the years. You may even have family branches that you don’t even know exist. Around two thirds of Brits die without making a will and there are currently 20,000 unclaimed estates that have been passed over for administration by the Treasury Solicitor.
 
It’s by no means improbable, and perfectly natural to wonder whether you could be entitled to a lost inheritance, especially if you have a large family. After all, in 2010 £21m was paid out by the Treasury to long-lost heirs.
 
If you want to find out whether you’re entitled to claim a slice of the millions held by the Treasury in unclaimed estates, you need to do a search of the Bona Vacantia, or vacant goods list. To perform a search, the information you’ll need is;
Surname             
Date of Death
Place of Death  
Date of Entry to Bona Vacantia
 
If you don’t have all this information, you can just search surname and place of death but your family name may not be the same as the deceased’s due to marriage over generations. Common names such as Smith or Jones can be difficult to trace. 
 
You may not even know of a particular relative, or have no knowledge of an entire branch of your family tree. Plus, the list details estates in England and Wales only, and you may have an entitlement to an estate overseas. This is fairly common as many families lose touch when members move abroad or emigrate. Therefore, if you don’t have much information, the best way to start is actually by researching your family tree.
 
During your genealogical research, you’ll be able to map out blood lines and see if you can make any connections. You’ll also obtain birth and death certificates to prove your lineage. These, along with other public records may contain vital clues as to the whereabouts of relatives. 
 
Genealogy is satisfying and rewarding. Besides, if you’re lucky enough to find you could be a beneficiary of an unclaimed estate, you’ll need to submit a professional family tree as proof of your relationship to the deceased.
 
If you don’t want to do it yourself, you can get a genealogist to carry out the work on your behalf. Find about more about our professional service to find your family tree.

The Facts about Unclaimed Estates

victoria family tree 19011 The Facts about Unclaimed EstatesHave you ever wondered what the chances are of a wealthy long lost relative leaving you a small fortune?  Here’s a collection of facts about unclaimed estates, inheritance and heir hunters. 

In Britain around 2 thirds of people die without making a will.

There are around 20,000 unclaimed estates in the UK and 2,000 more join the register each year.

Unclaimed estate details are public records; you can access the information by searching the Bona Vacantia (the ownerless goods list).

You can search online for all unclaimed estates since 1 Jan 1997, when records were computerised.

The latest unclaimed estates are published every Wednesday at midnight.

£21m was paid out by the Treasury in 2010 to long-lost heirs.

If the estate is not claimed within 12 years, it goes to the Treasury and becomes the property of the Crown.

It is still possible to claim some part of the estate for up to 30 years after the death.

In 2011 the Treasury Solicitor took in £18m from those who had not made a will.

Since December 2007 the values of estates are no longer published to discourage fraud against any assets.

Around 500,000 Brits benefit from an inheritance through heir hunting firms every year.  Professional heir hunters find the rightful beneficiaries of the estates held by the treasury and charge a finder’s fee for their efforts.

The average estate value is £67,500.

The average finder’s fee charged is 20% of the inheritance.

Many people throw away letters, and ignore phone calls saying they are entitled to a share of an unclaimed estate because they think they are scams.

The BBC program Heir Hunters was first aired on 4 June 2007 and is now in its 6th series.  It attracts around 1.7million viewers.

The probate genealogists featured on the show were heavily criticised in a case involving Jessica Ellacott.  The 17 year old student expected to receive a share of £175,000 inheritance from a cousin twice removed but the firm wanted to charge a third of her pay-out, plus VAT. – Daily Mail, This is Money, BBC 'bounty hunters' row.

Which.co.uk slates one firm who are charging as much as 40% plus VAT.

Market research company Opinium found that Brits could be handing over as much as £10 million a year to heir locater firms.

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