MD Danny Curran joins Vanessa Feltz on BBC Radio London: 2,500 UNCLAIMED ESTATES AND RISING IN LONDON


74 unclaimed estates, so far this year, have been added to London’s stock of over 2,500 estates in ‘purgatory’, according to Finders International’s interrogation of the latest Bona Vacantia list. These are estates of people who have died apparently intestate (no Will) and with no known next of kin.

Danny Curran, star of BBC Heir Hunters’ firm Finders International said: “These 74 estates are waiting to be claimed from the government, who are sitting on the fortunes of thousands of people across the UK. It is estimated that between ten to 20 percent of these would have had a property constitute part of the estate.”

The estate of Mary Keating, who died in Camden in 1988, is still unclaimed 29 years after her death and will revert to the Crown permanently in two months if it remains unclaimed.  Similarly, the estate of Daisy Murray (widow of Thomas Murray) who died in Ealing in December 1988 will revert to the Crown in the next couple of months. While more recently Christopher Gordon Robinson died in Camden last month and Peter Joseph Hayden who died in Cricklewood, NW2 on August 7 of this year are also among the list of unclaimed estates.

In 2014, funding of 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’. A record of 469 London estates were listed by the government in 2015 – just one year after funding to carry out a search for a Will was scraped.

Danny Curran says that this might explain the increase in the listings, currently standing at in excess of 8,955 nationwide with 2,530 London unclaimed estates accounting for about 28 percent 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 monthly publication of around 150 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.”

Finally, all individuals, especially those without next of kin, should be made aware of the free-to-use Central Probate Registry that can hold your Will securely and without charge.

When somebody dies intestate, 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.

Surnames on the list can be found here: