More than 3,000 people die in the UK every year without leaving a valid will or obvious heirs. If no legitimate heirs to an estate can be found, it goes to the government. The total value of unclaimed estates to HM Treasury is estimated to be around £18m each year. The individual value of these estates can range from £500 to millions of pounds, and they are legally known as ‘Bona Vacantia’ – literally, ‘ownerless goods’.

However, often there are surviving heirs who for a variety of reasons may not be aware of their entitlement, may have lost touch with the deceased relative or not have known them at all. We unite entitled relatives with their rightful inheritance.


As soon as we become involved in a case, we carry out detailed research into the family history of the deceased to establish whether there are any possible heirs. If we have contacted you, it is likely we believe that you, or someone you know, might be entitled to share in a Bona Vacantia estate. We may ask you a few questions to verify your identity and prove your relationship to the deceased. We treat this information completely confidentially. We are registered as a Data Controller under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998 and we ensure that we comply with all the protection the Act affords to you.

If you are identified as an entitled relative, we will offer you the opportunity to make use of our services, for a small commission, in order to prove your claim to an estate. We will ask you to enter into a short agreement setting out the terms of our services. It is general practice for genealogists not to reveal full details of an estate until all heirs have agreed to terms of business. We can then submit a claim to HM Treasury on your behalf documenting your entitlement to share in the estate. We will also manage the paperwork for you, introduce you to qualified probate solicitor who can administer the estate on your behalf, and potentially liaise with other entitled relatives. If we fail to prove your claim, there will be no cost to you.


The time it takes to establish a claim to an estate can vary depending on factors such as the nature of the deceased person’s assets, how easily they can be settled or sold, and how many heirs to the estate are found. As a rule of thumb, a typical case can take around 9-12 months starting when your claim has been accepted by the Treasury and ending when the estate is paid out by the administrating solicitor. The Treasury does not publish the value of individual estates so until a claim is admitted, we do not how much you may be entitled to.


Research Roots charges a small ‘contingency fee’ or commission for helping you establish your claim to an estate. The level of commission will depend on the complexity of the case and will be agreed in advance as a fixed percentage, if you decide to use our services. This way our fees will always be in proportion to your share of an inheritance. The Treasury’s administration fees, solicitors’ fees, taxes and all other costs are deducted from the estate once it has been settled. Only once an estate has been fully administered is our commission paid by the solicitor on distribution of the estate. There is no up-front cost to you and we will only be paid if we have succeeded in establishing your claim.


Research Roots guarantees a professional, open and friendly service with competitive rates of commission. We consistently achieve very high rates of success with claims accepted by the Treasury. As an independent research company managing only a few cases at any one time, we can offer a much more personal and responsive service than some of our larger competitors. We are resourceful and committed to our clients; we will always go that extra mile to secure results. As a small firm, we keep our commission low and we do not charge VAT. At all stages of the process, we will ensure you have the information and advice you require, and we are available outside usual office hours to answer your questions. Once your claim is admitted, we will present our findings with a properly documented family tree and give you any and all information and family memorabilia we come across in the course of our research. We can also put you in touch with relatives with whom you may have lost touch.

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Call us today for a preliminary conversation on a strictly no-obligation basis.