“Am I Entitled To Any Inheritance?” This is a question we get asked more times than you can imagine. In fact it seems to be on a daily basis. Well the answer is never as simple as a yes or a no, as there is a degree of research that must take place to determine that. Truthfully, if you are just trying your luck in hopes a distant relative has passed away leaving an estate, it is likely there is no inheritance out there for you. This is because in most cases, if there is an unclaimed estate, and there is remaining family out there, they would have been located by companies like ourselves.
Remaining unclaimed estates
However, there are still unclaimed estates that are on the Bona Vacantia and have been for years. So why have beneficiaries to these estates not be located? Well, a common reason is that there simply are no family members to inherit. Of course, if you trace someone’s lineage back far enough, we could find family, but laws of intestacy only go up to grandparents. Any family beyond this are not entitled under the laws of intestacy. For more information on this read our other blog here.
There are also instances where family may be untraceable. Common names tend to be the main problem here. With names like James Smith and Robert Jones, it’s very difficult to narrow down a correct birth record for the intestate. Without being able to decipher the correct birth record, we cannot begin to follow a family tree. Birth records hold the intestates parents information which is what you can start building a tree from. Therefore many names on the bona vacantia list remain there. This is where a lot of people enquire to us. It’s common for people to search for their surname on the bona vacantia to see if they have any family members leaving behind estates. However, it is often in vain. Without knowing the intestate, it is still just a guessing game trying to prove a connection between the intestate and the person enquiring.
Alternatively, If you know the person listed on bona vacantia, you may be able to aid researchers in proving your connection. This can be done through providing the names of the intestate’s parents to narrow down and select the correct birth record. From here, researchers like Blanchards, can build a tree to then connect you to the intestate. However, even if a bloodline connection is proved, it does not automatically mean you are entitled to an estate. This is because there can be family members more entitled than you. For instance, if even if your line is one of entitlement, your parents or grandparents may be entitled if genealogists have had to follow your grandparents or parents lines. This is because they have a higher connection in the family tree. Only if they have predeceased you, would you be entitled.
There are also instances where estates can remain unclaimed but have a hidden will. This can be the case for cases on the bona vacantia despite predominantly being cases of intestacy. We often get referred cases from people believing they are entitled to an estate only for the deceased to have a will to their family’s surprise. Just recently a lady enquired about her Fathers estate, only for us to find that he had left everything to one of her Brothers. Wills can be the start or the death of your claim to an inheritance.
Overall, it is highly unlikely that a general enquiry about potential inheritance will result in anything substantial. If you don’t know for sure about an inheritance, there likely isn’t any. To learn more about what we do please click here.