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Making a Claim on a Deceased Estate

Making a Claim on a Deceased Estate


As you might imagine, people often ask us – how long do I have to make a claim on a deceased estate? In general, estates on the Bona Vacantia list can be claimed within a 12-year deadline from the date that the estate was administered.

Roughly, that relates to 12-14 years after someone’s death, allowing for the administration to take place. When it comes to unclaimed estates pre 1997, the Bona Vacantia division will admit claims up to 30 years from the date of the person’s death, subject to no interest being paid on the money that is held, if the division receives the claim after the 12-year period has ended.

Unclaimed estates pre 1997

Any attempts to get unclaimed estates pre 1997 will need full documentation, such as ID and personal representative documents and the division must receive them within 30 years of the date of death.

Outside the 30-year limit, the Bona Vacantia Division will not consider claims – even if there are full documentation and proof of the relationship with the deceased. The estate then passes on to the Crown. Incomplete claims still need to meet the 30-year time limit, and so the full proof must be supplied before the beneficiaries can receive the estate.

To proof your entitlement to an estate which is on the Bona Vacantia list, you need to send the division a family which shows the relationship to the person who has died. This needs to include the dates of birth, marriages and deaths of everyone on the family tree. The Bona Vacantia division will then ask for documentary evidence supporting your claim

Probate Genealogists

The evidence will include full birth certificates with the parents’ names, and marriage certificates of everyone between you and the person who died, as well as yours and the deceased. ID documents are also needed that prove you are at the address you say you are.

Genealogist companies that specialise in providing proof of family trees can help in this regard. Finders International offers such a service and you will not pay anything up front. Finders International claims its fee from the estate once this has been received by the rightful heirs.

The company has many years’ experience in the field and can help with unclaimed estates pre 1997. Should you wish Finders International to carry out this work on your behalf, you need to provide written confirmation that you have given the company instructions to do so.


If you believe you are en entitled relative to an Unclaimed Estate listed on the Bona Vacantia List, check your entitlement today.