Home Business Insights & Advice Daniel Curran, Finders International: The order of inheritance on unclaimed estates in England and Wales

Daniel Curran, Finders International: The order of inheritance on unclaimed estates in England and Wales

by Finders International
27th Jul 23 9:56 am

Under English & Welsh Intestacy Law, the order of inheritance is determined by the blood relationship to the Deceased.

The first to inherit is the surviving spouse or civil partner. They are entitled to a significant portion of the estate, which includes personal chattels, a statutory legacy, and a share of the remaining estate.

If there is no surviving spouse or civil partner, the estate passes to the deceased’s children (or any surviving issue thereof, such as nieces and nephews).

In the absence of children, parents inherit next or one living parent, but if both parents have pre-deceased, the Estate will pass to the Deceased’s brothers and sisters, or, where any of them have predeceased, their living descendants.

What are the rules on intestacy if there are no close family living?

The next to inherit would be grandparents, but naturally, in most cases the grandparents have all pre-deceased the Deceased, so the next to inherit are any issue if the grandparents, such as paternal and maternal uncles and aunts, or first cousins where they are deceased. The inheritance continues down until a living relative is found, even if they are a first cousin three or four times removed!

The final category of next of kin who may inherit are half-blood issue of paternal and/or maternal grandparents or any surviving descendants thereof.

It is easy to see that the Intestate Succession Laws of England & Wales can create situations where a person who is distantly related to the Deceased – perhaps someone who has never heard of them, can inherit their estate.

Danny Curran says, “While there are plenty of cases where large estate values are discovered [in the millions] in the majority of cases however, individual entitlements are not likely to be large.

Large windfalls are rare because estates often need to be shared by all the living next of kin.

We worked on a case back in 2021 that had over 70 beneficiaries to the estate, located worldwide throughout the UK, Germany, USA, Canada, Australia.”

What do you do if are contacted by an Heir Hunter?

Should you receive a letter, email or phone call from us, this means we believe you (and possibly others) are the nearest entitled relatives to an unclaimed estate, and the possible recipient of an unexpected windfall.

Danny Curran, MD Finders International comments, “It’s important to note that the rules of intestacy can be complex, and seeking legal advice from a qualified professional is recommended to ensure proper understanding and application of the rules in specific cases.”

The fascinating world of Probate Research is a long established, legitimate business. That’s not to say that criminals haven’t tried to take advantage of the fame that the industry has attracted through the popular BBC One daytime series, Heir Hunters.

Do your research. If you are approached by a Probate Genealogist, research their credentials and reputation. Look for reviews and testimonials from past clients, and check if they are a member of any professional organisations, such as the International Association of Professional Probate Researchers (IAPPR).

Danny Curran, continues: “Sadly, probate genealogy is not a regulated industry but by following some basic tips, you can protect yourself against scams and ensure that you end up working with reputable professionals.”

You can read more on intestacy laws here!

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