One of the many aspects of our work at FWL is that we are probate researchers, otherwise known now as ‘Heir Hunters‘. The television programme has raised the profile of what we do and helped in some ways but of course, everyone now thinks they will be inheriting a small fortune. Often this is not the case, so let me unpick a few myths about intestacy and our profession…..
1. The Bona Vacantia (BV) list of unclaimed estates is published every day on the government website, Bona Vacantia (not on a Thursday as it used to be, and as the TV series states).
2. Each estate that is listed is valued at £500 or more (as opposed to £5,000 or more, as it was pre-April 2012). No estate value is listed and this is not disclosed until a claim has been accepted by the Bona Vacantia Division (BVD)
3. BVD will deal with, and admit, the first fully documented claim they receive which is supported by sufficient evidence. Once a claim is accepted, BVD “do not need claims from other relatives, as their claim is protected by law and should be made direct to the successful claimant or their representative, as it is their legal duty to deal with the estate appropriately.”
So, what that means is that companies – like FWL – only have to present one contract and one set of documents from a beneficiary in an intestacy. Once the estate has been paid to the administrator, i.e. the company (or individual) contracted to act on a family’s behalf, it is their legal duty to administer the estate appropriately and in accordance with intestate law.
Would you care to hazard a guess as to how many companies knowingly put in claims on behalf of people who aren’t the closest kin to the deceased? Over recent months, we have had several occasions where we have signed sole beneficiaries in cases only to be told that BVD has paid the case to another company. Clearly, not BVD’s fault …. but it makes you wonder about the other companies out there ….
How do potential beneficiaries decide which company to sign with? That’s one for Part 2, tomorrow…..