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Brighton and Hove Independent : Brighton has 230 unclaimed estates, research reveals

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Could you be the heir to one of the 230 unclaimed estates, left by Brighton residents with no apparent will?

Finders International published the figures this week, and said if the estates aren’t claimed they are passed to the Crown.

Danny Curran, star of BBC Heir Hunters and managing director of Finders International, said: “These 230 estates are waiting to be claimed from the government, who are sitting on the fortunes of over 10,000 people across the UK.”

When somebody dies intestate – with no will – their estate becomes a ‘vacant good’.

Bona Vacantia is the name given to these ownerless estates that are then passed to the Crown. Family members and heirs have just 12 years to claim an estate once it has been reported unclaimed to the Crown.

Mr Curran said one Brighton estate of a Rose Elizabeth Wilcox is still unclaimed 29 years after her death and will revert to the Crown permanently in January 2018 if it remains unclaimed – as in some cases however the Bona Vacantia division will accept claims up to 30 years from the date of death, but no interest is paid.

While more recently Michelle Sonia Denton died in Brighton last January and Robert John Martin died in December 2016 are also among the list of unclaimed estates, according to Mr Curran.

In 2014, funding to the Bona Vacantia division was cut so now there is no search for a will prior to posting on the unclaimed estates list. Prior to this, the government would search for a will before listing the estate as ‘ownerless’.

Mr Curran said that this might explain the increase in the listings, currently standing at 10,204 nationwide with Brighton’s unclaimed estates accounting for about two per cent of this.

In the last quarter alone, Finders International, a professional probate genealogy firm and stars of BBC Heir Hunters, has been asked to search for a will in a record number of cases with estate values in excess of £10 million.

This marked increase follows the Bona Vacantia division’s weekly publication of over 40 unclaimed estates – without first checking to see if a will exists.

Danny Curran said: “Valid wills do exist for approximately one in every five cases currently being advertised by the Government as intestacies. Many relatives are being needlessly traced only to find their expectations are dashed.

“The solution to this escalating problem is simple: The Bona Vacantia division should revert to an inexpensive will search prior to advertising estates. Where valid wills are found, the estate does not need to be advertised. This would also ensure the deceased’s wishes are met.”

He said all individuals should be made aware of the free-to-use Central Probate Registry that can hold your will securely and without charge.

Currently surnames on the list from Brighton include Baker, Anderson, Brooke, Brown, Clarke, Daly, Hunt, James, Nash.

For more information visit: www.bonavacantialist.co.uk

This article was first published in www.brightonandhoveindependent.co.uk