Category Archives: Society

Bona Vacantia – Unclaimed Estates in England

Bona Vacantia

Many people die intestate and leave assets that can be worth a lot of money. But if no relatives can be found then these assets can go to the Crown. A list of estates that remain unclaimed is held and is called the Bona Vacantia list.

Whenever someone dies in England, if they do not leave a will advising who they wish to leave their assets to, and if no-one comes forward to claim that inheritance within 12 years of their death, their entire estate goes to the Treasury – i.e. the UK Government gets it all.

Because the government say that they would rather have the money go to the rightful heirs than themselves, the government have set up a list which can be accessed by anyone online, which shows all of the names of the estates that they have registered where no-one can be found to claim the inheritance. That list is called the Bona Vacantia list which means ‘vacant goods’. Anyone can search through this list to see if any of their deceased relatives are on the list and liable to leave an estate that could be valuable.

Only certain people are allowed to claim against an estate and that is close relatives, further details are given below.

Who Can Claim a Bona Vacantia Estate?

Only certain relatives are able to claim against a Bona Vacantia Estate. The simple explanation is that the person must be a blood relative of the deceased and be one of the following:

  • Parent
  • Grandparents
  • Parents
  • Aunt (by blood not marriage)
  • Uncle (by blood not marriage)
  • Sister (including half-sister)
  • Brother (including half-brother)
  • Children
  • Cousins (only first cousins, i.e. the children of the deceased’s uncle or aunt)

Obviously it can get a bit more complex than this but this is the essential list of beneficiaries. If any of the beneficiaries have themselves died and left children then they will then become entitled to that share.

A diagram of the main relatives that can claim on a Bona Vacantia estate.
A diagram of the main relatives that can claim on a Bona Vacantia estate.

In order to claim an entitlement the beneficiaries must have evidence that they are who they say they are and that they are related to the deceased in the way they claim. This can be done by getting appropriate copies of birth, marriage and death certificates from the appropriate Registry Office.

Which Names Are Listed on Bona Vacantia?

You can find a full list of names of those who have died intestate (without a will) and for whom no relatives can be found, on the website in either the form of a list or by searching for a particular name or area where someone may have died. Obviously if the deceased has quite a common surname then it is going to be difficult to find relatives – for example, there are over 100 names on the list with the surname Jones so those are going to be more difficult to solve.

However, there are names on the list that are more distinctive and rare like the following:

Ignat Bladezki
James Anthony Blenkey
Frank Arthur Booton
Gertrude Maud Chitty
George William Flippance
Alan John Hankinson
Edward Lish
Edward Onions
Ellen Deborah Parker-Husband
Jean Albert Recordon
May Kathleen Sackett

These are just a small selection of names from the list, there are many more unusual and common surnames of people who were residents of England when they died. To find out the full list of names or to search through them you can check here.

The Importance of Having a Will

If you do not have a will and you die then there are strict criteria set out by law, as to who will get the value of your estate on your death. Obviously then, if those people are not the beneficiaries that you would actually want to receive all your worldly goods then you need to make sure that you have a will specifying your wishes.

A lot of people do not think about making a will until they feel like they are ‘getting old’! It is put off from year to year because we either do not want to think about it or just think it will not happen to us at any time soon.

However, it can be quite simple to make a will (as long as your affairs are not too complex). Although it is best to get a will drawn up by a solicitor, you can also get a kind of ‘readymade’ will where you just need to fill in the details. Once you have specified your wishes in this document and completed it according to the instructions, it is valid in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

With a will costing less than £20 there is really no need to put off completing one, even if this is a more simple version for the interim until you get a solicitor to draw up a more complex will. You can get legal forms to complete a will online – see the link on the left for one particular example.

Why is Everyone Dying?

In 2016 there have been a spate of celebrity deaths that actually kicked off just after Christmas of 2015 with Lemmy of Motorhead.

Obviously the big death that shocked everyone initially was David Bowie on 4th January 2016 but then it seems like a lot of high profile people have followed over the past few months.

So why are so many people dying you may ask? Well one theory is that popular culture really started kicking off in the 1950s and 60s and that is when television became much more widespread. By the beginning of the 1960s around 3/4 of the population had a television in their homes and so you could say that celebrity became much more common and accessible at that stage.

This enabled not only TV celebrities but also musicians to gain much more notoriety and in much larger numbers.

So those people who were becoming well known in the 50s and 60s were likely to be born in the 30s and 40s, which would make a lot of them in their 70s right now.

With life expectancy for men being in the 70s it becomes logical for many of the popular figures in the 60s to now be hitting that kind of milestone.

Obviously there are other factors involved too and in particular it seems that a lot of the deaths in 2016 have been from cancer including Bowie, Alan Rickman, Dan Haggerty, Johan Cruyff,  Victoria Wood and Billy Paul, but cancer is a big killer. Currently 44% of the population are expected to get cancer in their lifetime (in the UK) and of those 50% will survive for 10 or more years.

So really we have to think that maybe it is not a case of lots of well known people dying in 2016, but maybe more of the case that there are more well known people around so we are likely to hear about more celebrity deaths in the coming years as the generation that became celebrities in the 60s and beyond become part of the older generation.

It does seem that 2016 has started pretty badly, but overall life expectancy is getting higher each year and women in particular can expect to live until they are around 83 years old in the UK and 81 in the US. Men are a little behind with an average life expectancy of 79 in the UK, 76 in the US.

Life expectancy is rising continually so anyone born now could have a life expectancy in their 90s and by 2050-60, anyone born around that time may be expected to live until 100!

Trump 7/11 Gaffe

So a few days ago Donald Trump was making a speech at a campaign rally in Buffalo, New York when he made a terrible gaffe when speaking about the 9/11 disaster and instead referred to 7-Eleven (a chain store of convenience shops).

Instead of calling the event the 9/11 disaster – he called it ‘7-Eleven’ – in fact he said: “I watched our police and our firemen down at 7-Eleven – down at the World Trade Center”.

He didn’t even seem to realize this mistake at the time he made it but no doubt it was pointed out to him very soon afterwards.

However, even so he has yet to apologize for the gaffe, two days later, even after a social media outburst that means there is no way he doesn’t realize the mistake he made.

Trump does seem to be prone to not thinking before he speaks but possibly this is his worst gaffe…yet. We will wait and see what else he has to offer the media.

Check out the video from CNN for the speech that  he made here:


What Are the Chances of Winning the Lottery?

What are the chances of winning the lottery with 59 balls?

In October 2015 the national lottery in the UK increased the number of balls in the draw from 49 to 59, thus making it much harder to actually win the jackpot.

Previously, choosing 6 numbers from 49 would give you a 1 in 14 million chance of winning the lottery but now with the extra 10 numbers to pick your 6 numbers from, the chances have massively decreased to 1 in 45 million.

This increase in the number of balls and decrease in the chance of winning have been proven with the fact that the jackpot has continued to be an elusive prize that has not been won since the changes were made, contributing to a massive jackpot of £50 million + which could go on for a couple of weeks.

Tonight’s draw (6th January 2016) will be the 14th rollover jackpot – continuous rollovers since the new rules were introduced. This could trigger more people to buy tickets just because of the size of the jackpot which could then mean that more of the number combinations are covered.

The national lottery website says the following about the limit on the size of any rollover jackpot:

The jackpot can only stand at £50 million for two draws. If no one wins in the second draw, the full amount rolls down and is shared between the players in the next winning prize tier.

So it might be worth waiting to see if anyone wins the jackpot this time and if they don’t then there might be a great chance of winning more money with lower odds in the draw where the jackpot will be filtered down if no-one wins. This would be next Saturday 9th January 2016.

If no-one wins the jackpot on Saturday then the chances of winning with 5 numbers and the bonus ball are around 1 in 7.5 million which is almost twice the odds as winning the jackpot before the numbers were expanded to 59!

So if you want to know what are the chances of winning the lottery with 59 balls then I would say much better if you wait until the jackpot has to filter down!

How Can You Tell a Facebook Competition is Fake?

There are so many fake facebook pages out there trying to get us to click the like and share buttons with competitions and giveaways. So many of these facebook competitions are actually fake sadly.

There are a number of reasons why someone would set up a fake facebook page and competition even though sometimes they seem a bit unfathomable! But mostly they want us to like and share stuff so that more people like their page and maybe they can get hold of all our details and that of our friends to spam us with stuff or do even worse.

There have been pages and apps that have managed even more sinister things like posting spam on our behalf that appears on other pages and perhaps getting data from our email accounts and using that for their own (usually spam) purposes, but worst of all they could steal your identity and maybe even sell that information off to other people.

There are a lot of fake pages purportedly giving you a chance to win a lovely new LandRover
There are a lot of fake pages purportedly giving you a chance to win a lovely new LandRover

There are a lot of pages that promise prizes like a brand new car if you like and share their page. Another popular one is that you could win airline tickets from a well known airline to celebrate an anniversary and recently there was a fake Ikea facebook page promising £5,000 in vouchers to a lucky visitor to their store on it’s opening day.

Others promise that someone will win a villa or a holiday. With these competitions you need to follow the old adage – if it looks too good to be true then… well you know the rest.

So if you are wondering how can you tell if a facebook page is fake then start by looking at some of the following points:

  • If it is a big company then it should have the blue verified tick that facebook give to established companies so check for that.
  • How many likes does the page have – does it purport to be a big company and if so does it have as many like as you would expect it to? Many pages that promise giveaways from a company may only have a thousand or so likes and this should ring alarm bells to start with.
  • Is the company name spelled correctly? This might seem basic but you would be surprised how many are not quite spelled right because the actual company has taken the correctly spelled page name.
  • When was the page set up? If it was only set up a few months (or even days) ago then it is possibly fake – established companies will have had their facebook pages for quite a while by now. Check if all the posts showing were just added.
  • Does it have any contact information on it? Can you see a phone number, address etc in the about section? Reputable companies will definitely want this information to be obvious on their page so that you can contact them.
  • Is the spelling and grammar good? Companies will likely have someone who has good spelling and grammar updating their information.
  • Do they use lots of unnecessary punctuation? If you see more than one exclamation mark on something then that should also ring alarm bells!

So if you see a friend has liked a page that promises prizes that sound fantastic then just have a quick look at the page itself before you start sharing it around.

Here is a particular example:

A competition to win a villa (yes real actual ownership of a whole villa – does that smell fishy already?) with a company called James Villas. Here is the fake page:

This fake James Villas page has managed to get 13k shares for its competition after only a day!
This fake page has managed to get 13k shares for its competition after only a day!

Note that there is no contact information and only 7k likes.

But it has been copied from the genuine page here:

Over 100k likes and lots of contact info are a couple of things that show this is a genuine page.
Over 100k likes and lots of contact info are a couple of things that show this is a genuine page.