Who is entitled to an unclaimed estate and how much money will they receive?

When a person dies without leaving a valid Will, their assets (known as the estate) must be shared out according to specific intestacy rules.

Under the Intestate law of England and Wales, the following people are entitled to claim an estate in the following order:

  • Deceased’s spouse or civil partner.
  • Children of the deceased - if they haven’t been adopted out of the family.
  • Adopted children - into the family.
  • Any living Parents

If none of these exists or are not relevant; uncles, aunts or their children could be beneficiaries.

Should you be in any doubt about your status as a beneficiary to an estate, please call 01482 658635 to clarify any queries.

How much money will you receive?

In the early stages, nothing is known about the value of an estate.

When we start our research, the only fact we know is that the estate must be worth more than £500 – otherwise it would not have been referred to the Government Legal Department.

Once the estate is being administered, usually after about 3 or 4 months, it may be possible to gauge an approximate value of the estate, based on indicators like the fact the deceased owned their own house or bank accounts that have been located.

At this stage clients who have signed up to use our services register on our website and log into the case for an update or call the office. The amount may vary at different stages depending on any further debts and/or assets coming to light.

How long will it take to receive my entitlement?

Unlike in the past, the Treasury no longer gets involved in administering estates when they are notified of living relatives.

But once a claim has been accepted, they will revert back to the referrer

The Administrators will contact the referrer and carry on the process from there.

Once an estimate of the value of the estate is ascertained, if the value of the estate is high enough to need letters of administration, then this will be applied for at the courts. Once the letters of administration have been granted then funds can be gathered in, and any property can be sold.

Typically, this process should be achieved within the executor’s year but it does depend on the complexity of the estate.

The more complex an estate the longer it may take, for example there may be various bank accounts or shareholdings.

During the administration period we endeavour to find and contact any remaining possible beneficiaries who couldn’t be found initially or may not have answered previous letters. This needs to be done before the estate can be insured and distributed.

Missing relatives who cannot be located or fail to respond to our request can cause serious delays to the process.

No matter what case we’re working on, we always stress the need to be patient so that we can follow the required legal process.

Will you be responsible for the deceased’s debts?

When someone dies, their relatives do NOT become liable for any debts they may have.

Therefore you, and any other beneficiaries which have been found, will NOT be responsible for the deceased’s debts.

Any debts will be sorted out during the administration period and paid out of the estate.

In the worst scenario, the deceased debts may outweigh their assets. If this happens, the estate will go into liquidation and no payments will be paid out to the beneficiaries or the researchers. Importantly no payment from the beneficiaries will be requested.

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Who is entitled to an unclaimed estate and how much money will they receive?

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