McHale & Co. Solicitors Blog

Unclaimed assets from people without a will

In the Times today (17th May 2013) they report the following:

"The value of estates belonging to Britons who die without a will or an heir has almost doubled in 12 months, swelling the coffers of the Treasury and the duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster. Unclaimed assets totalled £38.5 million last year, a rise of 91 per cent on the year before.... Under laws dating back to medieval times, all ownerless assets in England and Wales — bona vacantia — either pass to the Treasury or to the two duchies if the deaths have been within their boundaries."

This made me wonder what the reasons are for such a big rise, in my experience there are several reasons why people don't make a will. A lot of people believe that they don't own enough to make it worth leaving to someone in a will, but clearly a rise of 91 per cent would suggest that this is not the case. Perhaps the cost puts people off or the will has been lost?

I think one of the most common reasons is that people just don't get around to doing it. They know they should make a will and even get to the stage of thinking about contacting a solicitor but in today's busy lifestyles it just doesn't make it to the top of the to do list. I'm not sure what the answer is because it couldn't be easier to make a will in today's high technology era, perhaps if I solved this problem I could then work out what this weekend's lottery numbers are going to be!

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