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BBC1 is currently broadcasting another series of Heirhunters.  Each programme follows the work of an agency specialising in tracing surviving relatives of people who died without leaving a Will.  Almost 300,000 people each die without having made a Will.  This is called Intestacy and it is something that is as painful as it sounds.  There are small estates but some are very substantial.  However, problem is that the heir hunting company does not know the outcome until the very end.  It is good television with some important underlying messages.
The heir hunting teams track down relatives of the deceased and for a commission they will secure their rightful share of the estate.  It is much easier if they are tracking an unusual surname, but they obviously want to follow leads with high value estates.  Therefore, their first step is to check if the deceased owned property and build up the case from there.
Many beneficiaries have no idea who their benefactor was and the windfall is complete surprise to them.  I often feel that although the dedicated detective work produces a happy result, there are some people appearing unlucky and unfortunate not to have benefitted.  If only they had a made a Will!
It is often friends and carers who are forgotten and do not receive anything.  They are the ones who not only provided the information for the heir hunters to find the missing relatives, but also were important friends to the one who has now died.  A case of benefit being misplaced.
You can check a list of unclaimed estates from as far back as 1997 by click on the link provided by the Bona Vacantia website.
Just remember who your friends are if strike lucky!!!