Could you be entitled to thousands of pounds? See if your surname is on our list
- Credit: PA
Dozens of estates left by people in Suffolk and north Essex are currently going unclaimed. Could you be an heir?
Check our list of surnames to see if you may be in line to inherit thousands of pounds.
When somebody dies without leaving a will and they have no known family, their property passes to the Crown.
This could potentially include houses and money as well as personal possessions. If you are a relative of the deceased person, you may be entitled to a share of the estate.
The government produces a spreadsheet, updated daily, showing which legacies have not yet been claimed by any relatives.
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Our lists here include people who died in Suffolk and north Essex, and also the names of deceased people who were born in the area.
Many have been on the list for years, with the majority believed to be people who died alone and are listed as single people or widows or widowers.
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Importance of making a will
The fact that so much money is going unclaimed underlines how important it is to make a will, to ensure your money goes to the people who you want to inherit.
One recent survey by the Remember a Charity consortium found 68% of adults in the UK had not got round to making a will, including 47% of those over 55 - with some wrongly believing only the wealthy need to bother.
Matthew Cameron, president of Suffolk & North Essex Law Society, said: "There is often a misunderstanding about what happens to a person's estate when they die if they haven't made a will. It doesn't automatically pass to a surviving partner or spouse."
Mr Cameron, a partner at Ashtons Legal Solicitors in Suffolk, stressed it was important to draw up a will properly, in consultation with a solicitor, to ensure your wishes are carried out.
He added: "We see an increasing number of challenges to estates where there are complications, which incur a lot of legal costs. It is better to spend a bit of money in advance and ensure you have a good will."
SNELS public relations officer Louise Goodenough, senior partner at Haywards Solicitors in Stowmarket, added that SNELS member companies get involved with local hospices and local charities' will schemes, where the firm prepares the will for free and the client makes a donation to that charity.
Other schemes include the National Free Wills Network, Free Wills Month and Will Aid. She said: "This gives those that cannot perhaps afford to do a will to have one drawn up either for free or for a small donation to charity."
Time limits on making a claim
If you believe you may have a claim on an estate, it is important to act quickly, as the government usually only accepts claims up to 12 years after the administration of the estate.
There are rules about which relatives may be entitled. If there's no will, a person's spouse or civil partner and then any children have first claim. However, if there is no spouse or child, anyone descended from a grandparent of the person is entitled to a share in the estate.
To make a claim, you will normally need to send a family tree showing your relationship, together with two pieces of identification. You might also be asked to send birth, death or marriage certificates.
If you are not a relative, it may still be possible to receive a grant from the estate in certain circumstances - for instance, if you once lived together or cared for them.