The Telegraph reported last week that the Prince of Wales has received over £1 million in the 2019-2020 financial year from the people of Cornwall who have died intestate – meaning they passed away without leaving a Will.

Due to a rule on unclaimed estates dating back to the Middle Ages, if a person in Cornwall dies intestate and has no surviving relatives then the estate automatically goes to the Prince of Wales.  A similar rule is in place in Lancaster but for the rest of the country, if a person dies with no Will and no next of kin then the estate is passed over to the Crown.

The article reported that some of the money the Duchy of Cornwall receives is retained in the event a relative comes forward at a later date to claim their inheritance. The money that is not retained is passed into a benevolent endowment fund.  The article reported that this fund invests the money and then ultimately uses it towards charitable causes in the South West of England.

The article said: “The Duke of Cornwall’s Benevolent Fund has paid out more than £850,000 to good causes over the past seven years and has amassed more than £5.5m in assets overs its life.”

The Telegraph also mentioned that the government has a similar fund that pays out to charities although this raises money from lost savings of people who might still be alive.  The money comes from accounts that have been left inactive for around 15 years or more and where the owner of the money has not been located.

In a recent announcement from the government, the money from lost savings will be used to fund charities and vulnerable people affected by coronavirus.  The article highlighted that the owners of the lost savings still have a right to claim their money back even if it has been paid out to a charity.

Finders International trace missing beneficiaries to estates, properties and assets. We  have a range of Legal Support Services to assist solicitors and other legal professionals including our Missing Will Service, Unclaimed Assets and Overseas Bankruptcy Searches.  To find out more, please visit our website.  Alternatively, you can email [email protected] or telephone +44(0) 20 7490 4935.