Millions lie in unclaimed estates of Irish people who lost touch with their country after starting a new life in England
Any long-lost relatives of an Irish woman have just weeks to claim her estate before it is handed over to the British government.
ngela 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. It is believed that she lived in the affluent area of Wimbledon.
In the UK, the estates of deceased persons who do not leave a will or details of their next of kin automatically fall under the management of the government’s Treasury Department.
If no one claims the estate within 30 years, the assets are given to the government.
Ms Boardman died on August 26, 1992. Her relatives therefore have around nine weeks to come forward before her assets are handed over to the government, which receives millions of pounds of unclaimed property each year.
She is one of hundreds of Irish people who have died in the UK over the past decades whose assets remain unclaimed.
Efforts are made by the Bona Vacantia (Vacant Property) Department of the UK Treasury to trace a person’s remaining relatives if they die without making a will.
In the case of people from Ireland, public notices are placed in local newspapers and the department also publishes a weekly online list of unclaimed property.
The most recent list, published on Thursday June 16, includes details of around 450 Irish-born estates awaiting claim.
The value of a person’s estate is not included in the list, but the Bona Vacantia department only deals with estates of £500 or more. Many estates aren’t worth much more than that, but others include bank savings, life insurance policies, and property.
According to her details on the unclaimed property 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 in Limerick on 26 December 1951. Mrs Butler’s birth certificate lists her parents’ names as John Walsh and Anne Walsh (née Roche).
Co Kildare’s wife, Mary Quinn, also died without leaving a will or details of her next of kin.
She died in Ealing, London on May 6, 1999, and was predeceased by her husband James. The couple 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 single.
No surviving relatives have also come forward to claim the estate of James Noel Fitzgerald, who was born in Tralee, County Kerry, in December 1943 and died in Southampton in July last year.
Finders International is a specialist genealogy company that attempts to trace the next of kin of those on the Unclaimed Estates List.
In a recent case, the company traced relatives of a Co Monaghan woman who died in 2015. Sheila Lancaster, from Clones, died in an Essex care home in May 2015.
Ms 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 worker, in Kentish Town, London. They had no children. Ms 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 consists mainly of a house in Essex.
The estate remained unclaimed for several years until Finders International took over the case and managed to find 33 people connected to Ms Lancaster, who will now each receive a share of her estate.
Danny Curran, chief executive of Finders International, said Ms Lancaster’s case was another example of how millions of pounds could go unclaimed simply because of the large number of Irish-born people in the UK who have lost contact with their loved ones.
“In situations like this, without intervention, the money would have gone to the UK government,” Mr Curran said.
He said about one in five unclaimed estates included property.
“In the majority of cases, it is a bank, local authority or hospital that has informed the UK government’s legal department of the circumstances of death and is asking next of kin to come forward and claim the deceased’s estate,” did he declare.
“Successfully tracing the next of kin of a deceased person and ensuring that their estate goes to the rightful relatives is always a privilege.”