No Relatives and No Will
We were contacted recently by someone from the Bona Vacantia, this is a government department which is passed details of estates without heirs. You may have heard mention of this department in the Heir Hunters series on TV.
‘Bona Vacantia’ means vacant goods and is the name given to ownerless property, which by law passes to the Crown. The Treasury Solicitor acts for the Crown to administer the estates of people who die intestate (without a Will) and without known kin (entitled blood relatives) and collect the assets of dissolved companies and other various ownerless goods in England and Wales.
This government department banked more than £14million in unclaimed inheritances in 2013-14.
But relatives have 12 years to come forward and claim their inheritance and will be paid interest on the money.
The ultimate deadline is 30 years, but it is at the discretion of the Government Legal Department and no interest will be paid for the final 18 years.
Bona Vacantia contacted us as they had been informed by a financial adviser who had gotten involved with the estate and had incorrectly confirmed that the person who had died had a legal will at the time of death.
We were asked to provide advice regarding this and our preliminary research revealed that there was no will on death. Our subsequent research confirmed that the person had an original dated some years before marriage, and her marriage had revoked the previous will.
Her husband had died and so when she died there were no blood relatives alive.
This sad case further re-iterates our view that you need to check your wills and other legal documents on a regular basis.
What happens now?
Bona Vacantia will post information regarding the deceased on their web site and a variety of “heir hunting” companies will seek out any blood relatives and thereby claim a bounty on the estate. failing that the monies will pass to the crown.