Every year thousands of people die without leaving a will. Unless an entitled heir is found, any estate they leave will go to the Government. Awareness of this situation has grown in recent years
thanks to the BBC TV series Heir Hunters, which follows the work of firms trying to trace beneficiaries to unclaimed estates.
The programme concentrates mainly on cases in England and Wales. There are some differences in Scotland, e.g. the Crown representative in Scotland is the Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer
(QLTR), but the genealogical skills and techniques involved in tracing heirs are the same.
The law of inheritance can be complicated. The Scottish Government has issued a leaflet summarising inheritance rights under the current succession law of Scotland, Rights of Succession: A brief guide to the Succession (Scotland) Act 1964: Revised 2005, which can be found online by following the link from the title above. In cases where there are no surviving relatives from the immediate family of the deceased, aunts and uncles, and first cousins, can be entitled. Unlike in England, it is possible for second cousins to inherit, if there are no closer relatives. Only blood relatives can claim, not persons related only by marriage.
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