Hundreds of Irish or their descendants could be in line to inherit a fortune as over 500 unclaimed estates in the United Kingdom await their rightful heirs.
Finders International are attempting to help unite Irish heirs with their inheritance. If someone dies leaving no obvious next-of-kin, their estate automatically defaults to the British Government. This happens about 2,000 times a year.
Speaking on RTE, Padraic Grennan, from the Dublin office of Finders International explained their role. He said “Essentially what we do: We are the people who knock on the door to say, 'look your long lost Uncle Bobby has left you an inheritance.' That’s what we do."
He continued, “We work with lawyers who have run into difficulty winding up estates. They might have a will where there's a beneficiary named and they can't find them.
"We would trace down the beneficiary or next of kin and basically approach them and tell them they are due to inherit a sum of money."
He noted that on the site UnclaimedEstates.ie there are around 550 people who died in the United Kingdom and have clear links to Ireland but whose estates have remained unclaimed.
Grennan said that they’re so busy that they’ve had to publish this site.
He encouraged those who believed their relatives could match this criteria to "check out the names, put your name in or your relatives' names and see if you can see anything there that might actually link you with that estate and we might be able to help you."
Time is of the essence because if these fortunes go unclaimed for 30 years the money goes to the Crown. Also it’s estimated that every year 12,000 people in the United Kingdom die without a will.
In 2013 the British Treasury asserted that Irish people stood to inherit millions of British pounds. The largest unclaimed case, at the time, was that of an Irish woman who left an estate worth $12.3 million in London.
Another large amount, reported in 2013, was that of Michael Moran. He died in London, aged 84, with an estate of $464,935. He was born in Westport, County Mayo, in 1922. He died intestate, in Windsor, London, in 2007. The law firm Fraser & Fraser used his local parish records, in Mayo, to find his heirs and his estate was distributed.
Finders International had similar stories. Greenan said a woman had recently died leaving a fortune of $689,588 (£500,000). This remains unclaimed and the group is trying to trace her closest family. She was Kathleen Hilda Ryan and had roots in Mullingar, County Westmeath. She died in Greenwich, in the UK, in 2013, without making a will.
Greenan said this case has stumped them. They have been focusing their investigations on her Irish aunt Lizzie Ryan, who they believe may have immigrated to the United States.
Amy Littlechild, also of Finders International, said, “Given Lizzie’s age we’d potentially be looking for the children of any children she may have had. It’s really the last lead. The rest of the family appear to have died out.
"She never made a will, she didn’t marry, she had no children and at the time of her death she had no living siblings either.
"Her father was John Joseph Ryan born in Mullingar and died 1971. The rest of the family have died out and the only possibility we have of finding an heir to this fortune is through one of John Ryan’s sisters, a lady named Elizabeth Ryan, also known as Eliza or Lizzy.
"All we have is a baptism certificate from 1878 and the records show she never married. We believe she may have gone to the US.”
She appeals to anyone who thinks their mother or grandmother was Eliza or Lizzy Ryan and fits the description to reach out to Finders International.
But remember before you must be able to provide evidence of a blood relationship in the form of birth, marriage and death certificates, along with evidence of their identity.