The estate of a wealthy Northern Ireland woman has remained unclaimed — nearly 30 years after her death.
Joanna Lynch passed away on August 25, 1991, in Camden, London. She never married.
Her sister predeceased her and no one else has ever come forward as her next of kin.
The Treasury has now appealed for information relating to Ms Lynch’s family, as only eight weeks remain for an ‘heir’ or long-lost relative to claim a legal inheritance.
If they fail to do so, the deceased’s assets will be seized by the Crown.
Ms Lynch is just one of 42 NI-born people who have died ‘intestate’, with seemingly no kin to pass on their inheritance to, according to a list kept by the Government.
When people die without making a will, they leave behind everything they owned, including money, property, business, cars and land and this is registered on the ‘Bona Vacantia’ (Latin for ‘unclaimed goods’) List.
The total value of the assets is not released until interested parties have verified their identity.
Of the 43 local people on that list, 35 have estates which relatives still have plenty of time to claim on.
So-called ‘heir hunters’ have made it their business to track relatives down, and there have been some spectacular successes, including one lady, Margaret Abbotts from London, who inherited over £300,000 from a half-sister she never knew.
Philip Turvey from Anglia Research, which specialises in finding heirs, told the Belfast Telegraph Ms Lynch’s estate could be worth a tidy sum.
“It’s quite an historical estate, and there are only a couple of months left for someone to claim before it falls to the Crown,” he said.
“Looking at the data, it’s worth someone chasing it up.”
Mr Turvey explained that estates go unclaimed for a number of reasons, including the failure of the deceased to have made a will.
“It could also be because individuals don’t have any relatives who are close enough to claim the estate,” he said.
“There is an order of priority starting from the closest relatives first such as spouse or children, then going to siblings, nieces or nephews.
“But if the person was an only child then the next eligible category would be aunts or uncles or their children and so on.
“Although that does seem like an expansive category of people who would be entitled to inherit, it would only take for the deceased individual or both of their parents to be only children and then there would be no one who would be eligible to inherit.”
He added: “That’s also why estates can remain unclaimed for such a long time because there are no people to inherit.”
Once you have established if you are able to make a claim, what you need to do is send a family tree that shows how you are related to the person whose estate you are trying to claim.
The following people are entitled to claim: husband, wife or civil partner; children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and so on; mother or father; brothers or sisters who share both the same mother and father, or their children (nieces and nephews); half brothers or sisters or their children; uncles and aunts or their children (first cousins or their descendants).
To view the Government list, search https://www.bonavacantialist.co.uk/location/northern-ireland