A recent article by the well-known ‘heir hunters’, Fraser & Fraser, confirmed the rise in estates being inherited by the Crown. The Government Legal Department’s division, known as ‘Bona Vacantia’, has reported a significant rise in income this year, to £70 million in 2019-20, up from £62 million in 2018-19.
Where someone passes away without a valid Will and without known close relatives, the first step is to see if they had any relations who may be entitled to claim from their estate. If nobody in the relevant categories has survived them, their assets will fall to the Crown – or, due to some historic rules, sometimes the Duchy of Cornwall or Lancaster.
So, could you be unaware that you’re an heir? Details of as-yet unclaimed estates are published on the Government website.