Unclaimed Estates in the UK: Exploring Bona Vacantia and the Potential for Inheritance

Unclaimed Estates in the UK: Exploring Bona Vacantia and the Potential for Inheritance

…By Judah Olanisebee for TDPel Media. Unclaimed Estates in the UK: Exploring Bona Vacantia and the Chance of Inheritance


The term “bona vacantia,” meaning “vacant goods” in Latin, refers to ownerless property that legally passes to the Crown.

When a person dies without a will, their possessions typically go to their next of kin.

However, if there are no known relatives, the estate becomes the responsibility of the Crown until a relative comes forward to claim it.


The UK government maintains a list of unclaimed estates, providing an opportunity for potential beneficiaries to explore the possibility of inheritance.

The List of Unclaimed Estates: GOV.UK hosts an updated list of unclaimed estates, dating back to June 1974.

This comprehensive document includes information on aliases and additional details about the estates.

Some entries specify the reasons for the estates remaining unclaimed, such as missing death certificates or individuals who passed away while residing in another country.

As of June 14, 2023, there were 6,370 unclaimed estates on the list.


Top Surnames with Unclaimed Estates: By analyzing the list, the wills and probate solicitors at Beecham Peacock have identified the surnames with the highest number of unclaimed estates.

Individuals with these surnames may have a better chance of being entitled to some or all of the estates.

The top surnames include Smith, Jones, Williams, Brown, Taylor, Wilson, Thomas, Johnson, Davies, and Ryan.

Unclaimed Estates by Location: The dataset also provides information on the regions where unclaimed estates are located.

While the estates may not necessarily include property, they are based in specific areas.


Some of the locations with a higher number of unclaimed estates include Birmingham (West Midlands), Leeds (West Yorkshire), Bradford (West Yorkshire), Camden (London NW1), Lewisham (London SE13), Leicester (Leicestershire), Nottingham (Nottinghamshire), Croydon (Surrey), Southampton (Hampshire), and Hammersmith (London W6).

Claiming an Unclaimed Estate: If you believe you may be entitled to an unclaimed estate of a deceased relative, there are steps you need to take.

First, check if the relative’s estate is listed with the Crown.

Once you locate the estate on the GOV.UK document, confirm your status as an entitled relative.

With the assistance of a reliable solicitor, navigate the process of making a claim to the estate.


Depending on other potential claimants, you may be entitled to a portion or the entirety of the estate.

Conclusion: The number of unclaimed estates in the UK continues to grow, often with limited available information about the deceased.

If you have any knowledge of a distant family member who has passed away, your contribution could help connect your family to their unclaimed estate.

Seeking the assistance of a trustworthy solicitor is crucial to ensure you take the necessary steps and receive what you are entitled to from the estate.

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