Drop Down Menu
  Business Directory Ad  


Heir boom: Emigrants’ cash goes unclaimed in Britain 22.04.13

by Linda McGrory

MILLIONS of euro left by Irish emigrants with no next of kin have been repatriated here by heir-hunting firms while more fortunes go unclaimed at the British Treasury. One company alone distributed more than €5 million to beneficiaries here in a recent 18-month period.
The windfall includes sizeable estates left by childless Irish emigrants who died in England and Wales with no known family and without making a will.
The Treasury has now published an historical list of unclaimed estates dating back to the 1990s to track down potential heirs.
The ‘bona vacantia’ (ownerless property) list of more than 10,500 unclaimed estates features hundreds of Irish-born men and women who died intestate between 1997 and 2012. Many of their estates are worth little but others include bank savings, life insurance policies and real estate valued at tens of thousands of euro.
In one recent case, Irish heirs were sought to inherit the sterling equivalent of almost €2 million euro left by a childless widow in upmarket Belgravia, London.
Irish cases account for about 10 per cent of the caseload of one of the UK's biggest probate research firms, Fraser & Fraser.
One of its three Ireland-focused teams repatriated some €5.1 million euro to unsuspecting beneficiaries here in a single 18-month period up to 2011.
The individual estates, originating mainly in Britain and the US, were worth between €23,000 euro and nearly €2 million euro.
"We have a good success rate with Irish cases because often we are dealing with large Catholic families and therefore there are more potential beneficiaries to look for," said partner Neil Fraser.
One case involved 89-year old Elizabeth Malhotra (nee Grogan) who died in London in 2009 leaving an estate valued at £1.7m (almost €2m) Belfast-born Ms Grogan had emigrated to America in the 1950s where she married airline executive Mohan Malhotra from Pakistan. The couple, who had no children, moved to London in the 1990s where they lived in Belgravia.
Ms Malhotra's estate has recently been settled and is to be distributed among a large number of distant cousins, many living in Belfast.
Many Irish surnames such as Murphy, Kelly, O'Brien and O'Connor feature on the Treasury's lists of unclaimed estates. Not all are first generation Irish while the birthplaces of those who are, is not always known.
The list includes the estate of Michael Delaney, a 70-year old bachelor who died in Luton, Bedfordshire in 2000, leaving £45,000 (53,000 euro). Fraser & Fraser cannot find any heirs for Mr Delaney’s money. "He may have had a brother but we don't think there are any next of kin," said Neil Fraser.
William Thomas O'Donnell (79) who died in Plaistow, London, on November 6, 2002 could also have heirs here. His estate, worth £40,000 (47,000 euro), remains unclaimed eleven years after his death. Estates held with the Treasury can be claimed with interest up to 12 years after a death and without interest up to 30 years. Details of unclaimed estates dating from before 1997 have not been computerised.
Fees are charged by probate researchers but potential heirs can also stake claims directly through the Treasury. Click here for full historical unclaimed estate list

Some unclaimed estates of Irish emigrants in the UK:

Poignant legacy of those with no kin. Are you heir to any of these estates?

John Sean O'Meara (Bachelor, 84 years): Died Lewisham, London, April 2012.
Mary Riordan (Spinster, 84 years): Died Chelsea, London, November 2007.
John Watson (Bachelor, 82 years): Died Plaistow, London, October 2012.
Eugene Fitzpatrick (Widower, 88 years): Died Brighouse, West Yorkshire, February 2007.
Nora Linahan (Spinster, 68): Died Huntingdon, October 2012.
James Emmett O'Reilly (Marital status unknown, 58 years): Died Harrow, Middlesex, April 1989.
Maureen Lock (nee Purton, 75 years): Died Basildon, Essex, November 2012.
Anthony McDonagh (Widower, 89 years): Died Halifax, West Yorkshire, February 2008.
Denis Shortiss (Marital status unknown, 81 years): Died Northolt, Middlesex, November 2012.
Patrick Joseph Russell (Widower, 81 years): Died Islington, London, January 2012.
Patrick Joseph Hendrick (Bachelor, 78 years): Died Islington, London, April 2012.
Michael O'Donnell (Marital status unknown, 45 years) Died Gillingham, Kent, June 2003.
William Berkeley (Bachelor, 93 years): Died Brighton, East Sussex, August 2012.
John Jo O'Reaghan (Single, 71 years): Died Stafford, Staffordshire, January 2013.
Michael Duffy (Bachelor, 74 years): Born Wicklow. Died Tooting, London October 2003.
Add to Favorites :: Return to > Top Stories    > News    > Home