Crown benefits from around £20 million a year

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If there is anything our royal family needs it is more money, writes Danny Curran, Finders International’s CEO and founder.

I don’t say this to be provocative but everyone’s next of kin is HM Queen Elizabeth II when it goes to the eventual distribution of unclaimed estates. The Bona Vacantia list is a list of the estates of people who have died without leaving a valid Will and with no apparent next of kin.

The Crown isn’t quick to claim their money—many of the people on that list have been there for years, decades even—but those estates eventually resort to the Crown, apart from former residents of Lancashire and Cornwall, where the money goes to the duchies there, a peculiarity dating back to the Middle Ages.

Money given to benevolent funds

Current practice for the latter two is for them to distribute the assets to charities.

But where those estates do eventually resort to the Crown, this brings an income of about £20 million a year.

Firms like mine look for next of kin when there doesn’t appear to be anyone closely related to the deceased. Through careful and thorough research, we are almost always able to find the rightful beneficiaries. They might be spread far and wide—we’ve identified relatives in Georgia, the US, Australia and more—and they might not even know who that relative was.

Rightful beneficiaries

But our network of organisations and experience in the field makes us ideally placed to keep that money out of the royal coffers and distribute it where it rightfully belongs.

How might this apply to you? We run an unclaimed estates website which we update regularly. It includes the names of everyone added to the Bona Vacantia list every day—usually their name, date and place of death, and when and where they were born if that information is available. There are, literally, thousands of people on it. You can search it by surname or sign up for alerts.

If you recognise a name, we can help you work out if you are related to that person and thus entitled to a share of their estate by establishing and verifying your family connection. Thanks to years of experience in the field, confirmation often takes us less than 24 hours.

While it is rare to find yourself the sudden beneficiary of a significant fortune, there might be enough money to pay for a holiday, a new car or home improvements.

Much as I respect our Queen, isn’t it better that those estates benefit the people the money rightfully belongs to?

Finders International is an award-winning probate research firm.  Our regulations and credentials include the IAPPR, Friends Against Scams, we are approved APSE partners and are the first probate research firm to be approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI).  For a full list of our credentials, please visit our website here.  Alternatively, you can call +44(0) 20 7490 4935 or email [email protected]