Danny Curran Featured in the Daily Mail’s This is Money

More inheritances may end up in the hands of the state, an article in This is Money warned this week.

This is Money says the UK Government’s cut to funding for will searches carried out by the Treasury’s Bona Vacantia division five years ago largely went unnoticed. This means that those who die without leaving a will and who do not have easily identifiable next of kin risk losing all their money and assets to the Crown.

Finders International’s CEO and founder Danny Curran told This is Money that the funding cut had not been publicly announced when it was made five years ago. Previously, a process would be in place to search for a will where there were no immediate traceable next of kin and the Bona Vacantia Division (BVD) would publish the estate’s details on its website.

Not always in the interests of the BVD

Danny said that as the Crown inherits if next of kin cannot be found, it was not always in the BVD’s interest to carry out searches for wills.

When This is Money asked the Attorney General’s office about the BVD’s funding cuts, the office said it had trialled searching for wills in every case it was referred to and advertising the estates on the list of unclaimed estates.

The office said the division ended the trial because the searches only turned up five wills in the thousands of searches undertaken. Searches cost approximately £75 each, meaning that the BVD did not consider them cost effective.

‘Good reasons’ for searches

However, the Attorney General’s office also pointed out that searches will be conducted if there are good reasons to believe the deceased person left a will behind.

The department said a Section 27 notice was always placed in the Government publication, the London Gazette, for every estate it administered. This provides an official record designed to inform potential creditors that someone has died, and their estate will be distributed.

However, Danny maintains that contrary to the Attorney General’s claims, valid wills do exist for, on average, about one in every five of the cases advertised as intestate by the BVD.

Intestate estates

Intestate estates are distributed between the spouses and descendants of the deceased where that person has not left a will.

The withdrawal of funding for will searches could lead to assets going to the wrong people, especially because unclaimed estates are publicly advertised, Danny warned.

In England and Wales there is no requirement to lodge copies of wills with the courts or a government agency. Wills can be lodged with the National Wills Register or HM Courts and Tribunals Service, but this is voluntary.

Inexpensive will search solutions

Danny’s solution is that the BVD reverts to inexpensive will searches before advertising estates. This would ensure the wishes of the deceased are met and that are less complications for estate managers, councils, the intended beneficiaries and heir hunters, etc.

He has also called for the UK Government to make people more aware of the services of the Central Probate Registry, where people can file their will for just £20.

Click here to read the article in full.