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MORE than 150 estates are currently unclaimed throughout Bournemouth – including one dating back to 1988.

According to research by genealogist firm, Finders International, 160 separate holdings have been left by people who have died apparently intestate – without a will – and with no known next of kin.

The discovery follows investigation of the latest Bona Vacantia list.

When somebody dies intestate, their estate becomes a ‘vacant good’.

Bona Vacantia is the name given to these ownerless estates which 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.

Danny Curran, star of BBC Heir Hunters and MD of Finders, said: “These 160 estates are waiting to be claimed from the government, who are sitting on the fortunes of over ten thousand people across the UK.”

One Bournemouth estate of Richard Francis Cook is still unclaimed 29 years after his death and will revert to the Crown permanently in June 2018 if it remains unclaimed.

More recently Peter John Shephard died in Bournemouth in May and Douglas John Kelsey died in September 2016 are also among the list of unclaimed estates.

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 says this might explain the increase in the listings, currently standing at 10,204 nationwide with Bournemouth’s unclaimed estates accounting for just under two percent of this.

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

“Valid wills do exist for approximately one in every five cases currently being advertised by the Government as intestacies,” Mr Curran added.

“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.”

This article has been first published in bournemouthecho.co.uk

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