Millions lie in unclaimed estates of Irish people who lost touch with home after starting a new life in England
June 19 2022 02:30 AM
Any long-lost relatives of an Irish woman have just weeks to claim her estate before it is handed over to the British Government.
Angela Boardman (née Sisk) was born in Cork in 1932 and died in London in 1992 without leaving a will or identifying any next of kin. She is believed to have lived in the affluent Wimbledon area.
In the UK, the estates of deceased people who do not leave a will or details of their relatives automatically come under the management of the government’s treasury department.
If no one claims the estate within a 30-year limit, the assets are given to the government.
Mrs Boardman died on August 26, 1992, so her relatives have around nine weeks to come forward before her assets are handed over to the government, which receives millions of pounds each year from unclaimed estates.
She is one of hundreds of Irish people who died in the UK in recent decades and whose assets remain unclaimed.
Efforts are made by the Bona Vacantia (vacant goods) department of the British treasury to trace a person’s remaining relatives if they die without making a will.
In the case of people originally from Ireland, public notices are placed in local newspapers and the department also publishes a weekly online list of unclaimed estates.
The most recent list, published last Thursday, June 16, includes the details of around 450 estates of Irish-born people waiting to be claimed.
The value of a person’s estate is not included on the list but the Bona Vacantia department only deals with estates of £500 or more. Many of the estates are not worth much more than this, but others include bank savings, life insurance policies and property.
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According to the details about her on the unclaimed estates list, Mrs Boardman married her husband, Anthony James Boardman, in the London borough of Merton on May 2, 1980. Mr Boardman died on August 21, 1991, and his wife died a year later.
Another of the unclaimed estates belongs to Annie Mary Butler, who was born in Limerick on October 13, 1910, and died in West Bromwich on July 8, 2004. Her maiden name was Walsh and she was married to Owen Joseph Butler.
The couple were married in the parish of St Munchin’s in Limerick on December 26, 1951. Mrs Butler’s birth certificate gives her parents’ names as John Walsh and Anne Walsh (nee Roche).
Co Kildare woman Mary Quinn also died without leaving a will or details of her next of kin.
She passed away in Ealing, London, on May 6, 1999, and was predeceased by her husband James. The couple were married in Ealing on February 15, 1958.
Mrs Quinn’s maiden name was Davis and she was born in Stradbally, Co Laois, on July 14, 1915.
Other cases include Christopher Mary Guina, who died in Ramsgate, Kent, in August last year. His estate was added to the list of unclaimed estates last month.
Mr Guina was born on September 5, 1952, and his estate was notified as unclaimed by Barclays Bank.
Another unclaimed estate belongs to Daniel David Guiney, who was born in Dublin in 1942 and died in Westminster in November last year. The 79-year-old was listed as a bachelor.
Any surviving relatives have also not come forward to claim the estate of James Noel Fitzgerald, who was born in Tralee, Co Kerry, in December 1943 and died in Southampton in July last year.
Finders International is a specialist genealogist firm which tries to track down the next of kin of those on the unclaimed estate list.
In a recent case, the company found relatives of a Co Monaghan woman who had died in 2015. Sheila Lancaster, who was originally from Clones, died in a nursing home in Essex in May 2015.
Mrs Lancaster, whose maiden name was McCaffrey, was born in 1928. She emigrated to the UK where she worked as a bank clerk.
In 1974, at the age of 46, she married Eric Lancaster, a post office clerk, in Kentish Town, London. They had no children. Mrs Lancaster was cremated and it is understood no one was at her funeral.
She did not leave a will and had no known relatives to inherit her €400,000 estate, which was mainly made up of a house in Essex.
The estate lay unclaimed for a number of years until Finders International took on the case and managed to find 33 people related to Mrs Lancaster, who will now each receive a share of her estate.
Danny Curran, managing director of Finders International, said Mrs Lancaster’s case was another example of how millions of pounds could remain unclaimed simply as a result of the large number of Irish-born people in the UK who have lost touch with relatives.
“In situations like this, without intervention, the money would have gone to the UK government,” said Mr Curran.
He said approximately one in five unclaimed estates included a property.
“In the majority of cases it is a bank, a local authority, or a hospital that has informed the UK government’s legal department about the circumstances of the death and are seeking relatives to come forward and claim the deceased’s estate,” he said.
“Successfully tracing relatives of a deceased person and ensuring their estate goes to the rightful relatives is always a privilege.”