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Unclaimed estates, often shrouded in legal complexities and administrative hurdles, represent untapped opportunities for those seeking to reclaim their rightful inheritance. However, navigating the process of estate recovery can demand restricted resources and nuanced understanding of the legal landscape. To begin, you bust know what an unclaimed estate is and why they occur.

What is an unclaimed estate?

An unclaimed estate refers to the assets and belongings left behind by a deceased individual that remain unclaimed by any known heirs or beneficiaries. These assets can include various types of property such as bank accounts, investments, real estate, vehicles, jewellery, and other personal belongings. Unclaimed estates typically arise when a person passes away without leaving a clear will or without any identifiable heirs, or when the rightful heirs are unable to be located or do not come forward to claim their inheritance.

Why unclaimed estates occur:

  1. Lack of estate planning: If the deceased did not create a will or establish any other form of estate planning, it can complicate the process of distributing their assets and lead to the assets becoming unclaimed.
  2. Unknown heirs: In cases where the deceased may have distant or unknown relatives, tracing and locating potential heirs can be challenging, especially if there are no clear records or documentation available.
  3. Legal disputes: Disputes among potential heirs or conflicting claims to the estate can result in the assets remaining unclaimed until the legal issues are resolved through probate or other legal proceedings.
  4. Absence of a designated executor or administrator: Without a designated executor or administrator to oversee the estate settlement process, the assets may remain unclaimed until someone takes on the responsibility of managing the estate.
  5. Abandoned property: In some cases, individuals may abandon their property without notifying anyone, leading to their assets being classified as unclaimed if no efforts are made to claim them after their passing.

The steps to recovering an unclaimed estate

Conduct Thorough Research and Documentation: Begin by conducting meticulous research to gather relevant information about the deceased individual, including their full name, date of birth, and last known residence. Utilise online databases, public records, and genealogical resources to trace familial lineage and potential heirs. If the deceased party is on the Bona Vacantia list it should hold most of the information you may need. Additionally, gather essential documents such as death certificates, wills, and property deeds to substantiate your claim.

Identify Potential Heirs and Stakeholders: Reach out to extended family members, relatives, and acquaintances to gather insights into the deceased individual’s family tree and potential heirs. Consider enlisting the services probate researchers like Blanchards  to facilitate the identification process, particularly in cases involving complex familial relationships or distant relatives.

Prove your entitlement: Proving entitlement to an estate typically involves providing legal documentation and evidence to establish your rightful claim. Firstly, you may need to demonstrate your relationship to the deceased, which could include providing birth certificates, marriage certificates, or other relevant familial documentation. If you are named as a beneficiary in the deceased’s will, presenting a copy of the will is crucial. In cases where there is no will (intestacy), you might need to provide evidence of your status as an heir according to the laws of intestate succession in the relevant jurisdiction. Additionally, you may need to provide documentation regarding any financial transactions or agreements between you and the deceased that substantiate your claim to the estate. Ultimately, the process can vary depending on local laws and circumstances, but thorough documentation and legal representation can help validate your entitlement to the estate.Top of Form

Navigate the Probate Process: If the estate is subject to probate laws, initiate the probate process by petitioning the court to administer the estate and distribute assets accordingly. Consult with experienced estate attorneys specializing in probate matters to navigate through legal complexities and ensure compliance with state laws and regulations. Follow prescribed procedures for probate and estate administration outlined in the relevant jurisdiction.

Submit a Formal Claim Package: Prepare a comprehensive claim package containing all requisite documents, including proof of identity, relationship to the deceased, and supporting evidence of entitlement to the estate. Adhere to any specified deadlines or requirements for claim submission and be prepared to provide additional documentation or undergo verification processes as necessary.

Facilitate Resolution and Distribution: Await the adjudication of your claim by the probate court or estate administrators, allowing for a review period to assess the validity of competing claims and resolve any disputes. Collaborate closely with appointed fiduciaries or administrators to facilitate the transfer of assets and finalize the distribution process expediently.


In conclusion, the steps to follow this process are lengthy and prone to mistakes from the general public. This is why it is considered  that hiring a probate researcher is the best resolution. A probate researcher can handle the burden of representing your claim to an estate with the expertise and resources to perform a fast and correct outcome. If you need assistance with an estate please contact us. For more articles like this, please read our other blogs and follow us on LinkedIn.

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