Unclaimed Inheritance in Scotland

Thu 23rd May 2019

Unclaimed Inheritance in Scotland


Did you know the process of claiming estates and unclaimed inheritance differs around the world? Due to individual laws, the steps required to make a claim can differ dramatically even in neighbouring countries such as Scotland and England. Take a look at our guide to claiming inheritance north of the border. 

How It Works in Scottish Law

When a person dies in Scotland without leaving a will detailing their desired benefactors, any unclaimed assets (Bona Vacantia) automatically fall under the care of the Crown, and are then placed in the care of The Office of Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (QLTR), and listed on the official Bona Vacantia List for Scotland.

If the estate then goes unclaimed for ten years (or two years after an advertisement in the Edinburgh Gazette) the assets will be removed from the Bona Vacantia list by QLTR. The assets are then valued by QLTR, and that value is paid into the Scottish Consolidated Fund, for the Scottish Executive to use on behalf of the people of Scotland.

In March 2016, the Succession Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament, making the process of claiming unclaimed estates in Scotland somewhat easier. In the past, all claimants were required to obtain a ‘Bond of Caution’ in order to make their claims to the QLTR. The ‘Bond of Caution’ is a form of insurance provided by a limited number of companies, such as Royal & Sun Alliance. However, this is now not required in all cases. Thanks to the Succession Act, claiming your inheritance is simpler and faster, and can be done in three steps.

How To Claim Inheritance in Scotland

Step 1 - Contact the Commissary Department

If you are looking to claim unclaimed assets from the estate of a deceased relative, you must contact the Commissary Department of the Sheriff Court in the area that the deceased person in question lived, so you can receive an appointment as Executor Dative for the estate, meaning that you will be the administrator of the deceased’s estate. If you are unsure about the value of the estate, read this quick guide to finding the estate’s value.

Step 2 - Obtain your Confirmation

The Commissary Department of the Sheriff Court will then explain the legal duties of an Executor Dative in Scotland, and advise you on how to obtain the information you need to process your application. If all goes well and you are indeed accepted as the legal benefactor to the estate in question, you will receive your official Confirmation Document from the Commissary. If you need help proving to the Commissary Department that you are the rightful heir to the estate in question, fill out this information form to receive expert help and advice. The legalities of this process can often appear confusing, so we recommend seeking professional assistance to ensure all your documents are correct .

Step 3 - Claim your Estate from QLTR

Once you have received your Confirmation document from the Commissary Department, contact the QLTR and present them with this document. Once this has been received and processed, the QLTR can allocate any proceedings remaining from the estate to the rightful benefactor(s) as stated on the Confirmation Document.

If you require extra assistance in your case, we recommend you get in touch with us, or with a legal professional who will help you in your claims. If you are unsure about whether or not you are an entitled relative, check the  Bona Vacantia List for mention of a known family member or read our guide on entitlement to unclaimed estates. If you find that you are an entitled relative, let us know and we will guide you through this process to ensure that you receive what you are entitled to.
If you are aware of an estate which requires investigation, let our team know today.