Somerset Live : Heir Hunters – The unclaimed estates of Bath and Bristol residents that you may inherit

Two people who have died in Bristol and Bath this year have left unclaimed estates.

When someone dies with no known will or no known beneficiaries, their estate – including money, buildings, or personal possessions – passes to the Crown as ownerless property, or “bona vacantia”.

These estates are publicly listed by the government legal department – to give entitled relatives a chance to stake a rightful claim.

If there is no will, a spouse or civil partner, and then any children, have first claim to the estate.

If none of these exist, anyone descended from a grandparent of the person is entitled to a share.

Paul Lewis, presenter of Money Box on BBC Radio 4, said: “Making a will is very important if you care about what happens to your money and your stuff after you die, and most of us do.

“Most of us have young relatives who we want to benefit from it or charities we want to support.

“We all want to do something if there’s anything left by the end of our lives.

“If we don’t make a will, the law decides who gets what and what the law decides may not be what we want.”

Claims in England and Wales are handled by the government legal department – except in the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster, where they are handled by Farrer and Co.

The people to die this year, and have their estates declared “bona vacantia”, include Clifford Samuel Leach, who died in Shirehampton, Bristol, on January 23.

He was known to have been born in Poland and was four days short of his 81st birthday when he passed.

Also on the list is Geoffrey Gerald Pearce, who died in Bath on April 14.

He was 79 at the time of his death. It is unknown whether either man was married.

Across England and Wales, 235 people who died this year have left unclaimed estates.

While there is generally a time limit of 12 years on claims, this can be extended in some circumstances to 30 years.

The value of an estate is not listed in the records.


This article has been first posted in SomersetLive