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Bona Vacantia Estates

In the case of a potentially bona vacantia estate, the Attorney General’s Chambers will make enquiries to trace eligible relatives, including placing an advert on the Chambers web page.

Where no eligible relatives are traced, the Attorney General will obtain a Grant of Letters of Administration to administer the estate on behalf of the Treasury. A list of estates which are being administered are available. Once the administration has been completed, the residuary estate (i.e. the amount remaining after payment of all debts and expenses) will be transferred to the Treasury to hold in trust for the Crown.

Enquiries concerning bona vacantia estates for which eligible relatives are being sought or which are in the process of administration, including making a claim by a relative, should be made to the Attorney General’s Chambers by email.

All enquiries, including claims, in respect of residuary estates should be made to the Treasury by email. Details of unclaimed estates held by the Treasury.

The Treasury will accept claims within, generally, 12 years from the date that the administration of the estate was completed and interest will be paid on the money held.

However, the Treasury will admit claims which are submitted after the 12 year period has run out, provided all the necessary documents to complete the claim are received within 30 years of the date of death. If a claim admitted under this paragraph is accepted, no interest will be paid on the money held.

Any claim to a bona vacantia estate, whether sent to the Treasury or to the Attorney General’s Chambers, should be accompanied by a family tree and certified copies of the following documents:

  1. birth, marriage and death certificates of all persons in the "relationship” chain between the deceased person and the claimant,
  2. a current Government issued identity document which includes a photograph of the claimant (e.g. passport or driving licence), and
  3. a document, no older than 3 months, which confirms the current address of the claimant (e.g. a utility bill or bank statement).

The Treasury is able to make a discretionary grant from the estate to an individual who, although not entitled by operation of law, could be expected to benefit from it. This may include circumstances such as:

  1. The deceased made a will which dealt with all property in the jurisdiction in which her or she was living and, from the information available, it is reasonable to believe that the failure to include reference to property in the Isle of Man was due to an oversight or a misunderstanding of the law and that it was the intention of the deceased that the beneficiaries named in the will should also inherit the property in the Isle of Man.
  2. The person claiming lived with the deceased (as their partner or as a friend) but was not married to them. [NB A “common law” partner has no rights of inheritance.]
  3. The person claiming had provided the deceased with free services such as washing, cleaning, cooking, shopping, home repairs or care where they might otherwise have had to pay.
  4. The person claiming represents a charity or other body which cared for the deceased at considerable expense.
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