New research has found over £77m worth of inheritance is still left unclaimed in UK estates.
Figures obtained from the UK government’s treasury solicitor shows 7,090 estates remain unclaimed, and according to data from the Office for National Statistics, the median amount of inheritance received by individuals is £11,000.
This puts the potential amount of unclaimed inheritance in the UK at over £77,000,000!
See the full list of unclaimed estates held by the Treasury Solicitor. Last updated 3rd December 2021.
Unclaimed estates by year of death
In the illustration below, we can see the number of unclaimed estates left by people who have died each year since 2000. These figures are subject to change, but provide a snapshot into the annual volume of estates that are never claimed.
As you can see, there are hundreds of estates left unclaimed each year, meaning that there are thousands of people out there who don’t realise that they are in line to inherit potentially life-changing sums of money.
In fact, there are 4,928 unclaimed estates left by people who have died since the turn of the millennium, and there are over 7,000 unclaimed estates on record in England and Wales, dating back as far as the 1970s.
Surnames with the most unclaimed estates
In this section, we’ll look at some of the most common surnames of people whose estates are yet to be claimed by their next of kin.
If any of these surnames match your own, you may want to check whether you’ve been bequeathed a surprise fortune. Stranger things have happened after all!
1. Smith – Number of unclaimed estates: 129
The most common name for unclaimed estates is Smith, with 129 unclaimed inheritances waiting to be properly allocated.
2. Jones – Number of unclaimed estates: 86
The second most common surname for unclaimed estates is Jones, for which there are 86 estates yet to be claimed.
3. Taylor – Number of unclaimed estates: 54
The surname with the third-highest number of unclaimed estates is Taylor, for which there are 54 estates waiting to be claimed.
The UK counties with the most unclaimed estates
Here, we turn our attention to the distribution of these unclaimed estates across the country.
We’ve identified which county each unclaimed estate belongs to, allowing us to map them out across England and Wales.
1. Greater London – Number of unclaimed estates: 2,355
Greater London is the county with by far the largest number of unclaimed estates at 2,355. This is to be expected as London also has the largest population by quite some way, although 2,355 unclaimed estates is still a huge number for any one geographical area.
2. Surrey – Number of unclaimed estates: 362
The county with the second largest number of unclaimed estates is Surrey, which currently has 362 on record.
3. West Midlands – Number of unclaimed estates: 348
In third place, with 348 unclaimed estates, is the West Midlands county. This is not to be confused with the region of the West Midlands, which incorporates a much larger area.
UK counties with the highest rate of unclaimed estates per 100,000 inhabitants
We also looked at the number of unclaimed estates per 100,000 people in each county. This helps to give us a more relative view of where the most inheritances are never claimed.
1. Surrey – Unclaimed estates per 100,000 People: 30.42
Surrey is the county that has the highest rate of unclaimed estates in the country at 30.42 per 100,000 people.
2. Greater London – Unclaimed estates per 100,000 People: 26.46
Greater London takes second place with 26.46 unclaimed estates per 100,000 people.
3. East Sussex – Unclaimed estates per 100,000 People: 22.49
In third place is East Sussex with 22.49 unclaimed estates per 100,000 people, meaning all three top counties are located in the southeast of England.
Methodology and references
We wanted to find out how many unclaimed estates there are in the UK. To do this, we used government and ONS data to investigate unclaimed estates in the country.
We sorted the unclaimed estates data into several different formats to reveal which surnames have the most unclaimed estates, as well as how they are distributed across England and Wales and which years have the most still unclaimed.
All data was accessed on 24/11/21 and is subject to change.