There are more than 100 unclaimed estates in Eastbourne, where people have died with no will and no apparent next of kin.
That is according to research by Finders International, which has found the surprising information from the latest Bona Vacantia list.
Danny Curran, star of BBC Heir Hunters and managing director of Finders, said, “These estates are waiting to be claimed from the government, who are sitting on the fortunes of over ten thousand people across the UK.”
The estate of Elizabeth Pitman-Thompson, born August 1924 who died in Eastbourne in April 2010, aged 85, was added to the list this month (February 2019).
Gerald Duffy, who died in Eastbourne last April aged 77, had his estate listed as unclaimed in June 2018, while the estate of Agnes McMorrow, also known as Nellie, who died in Eastbourne in October 1989 is still unclaimed almost 30 years after her death.
It will revert to the Crown permanently in October this year if it remains unclaimed – according to Finders.
Other names added to the bono vacantia list with deaths registered in Eastbourne last year include Roger Taylor, Elizabeth Diana Heggs, Joseph Brewer, Norman Young, and Alan Heap.
When somebody dies intestate (with no will), their estate becomes a ‘vacant good’. Bona Vacantia is the name given to these ownerless estates that are then passed to the Crown.
Family members and heirs have just 12 years to claim an estate once it has been reported unclaimed to the Crown.
In 2014, funding to the Bona Vacantia division was cut so now there is no search for a will prior to posting on the unclaimed estates list.
Prior to this, the government would search for a will before listing the estate as “ownerless”.
Curran says this might explain the increase in the listings, currently standing at around 9,000 nationwide.
He said, “Valid wills do exist for approximately one in every five cases currently being advertised by the Government as intestacies. Many relatives are being needlessly traced only to find their expectations are dashed.
“The solution to this escalating problem is simple: The Bona Vacantia division should revert to an inexpensive Will search prior to advertising estates.
“Where valid Wills are found, the estate does not need to be advertised. This would also ensure the deceased’s wishes are met.”
He says all individuals, especially those without next of kin, should be made aware of the free-to-use Central Probate Registry that can hold your will securely and without charge.
Currently surnames on the list from Eastbourne include: Ballintyne, Chadwick, Wilkinson, Paterson, Montgomery-Murphy, Dagnall and Kneller amongst many others.
To see the entire searchable list, visit: www.bonavacantialist.co.uk