Shakespeare once asked, “what is in a name?” in his famous tragedy “Romeo And Juliet,” and the text went on to insist that names mean little once love gets involved. But as we all know, the young lovers in his play ultimately met their doom by Act IV, as their star-crossed love unfolded in the playwright’s best known tale of ill-fated romance.
But no such sadness befalls folks of Scotland — if, that is, they happen to have a surname that appears on the government’s new list, a list of “unclaimed” estates that are sitting idle because their former owners have passed away “intestate,” the legal term for dying without leaving a will.
One’s will usually asks that all one’s assets — manors, money, and much, much more — be divided up among specific individuals. Dying without one used to mean that property, cash, and everything else automatically went to the state — in this case, the U.K. Crown.
No longer. If a person’s last name coincides with a name on the list, there just might be ownership of a glorious, huge estate in their future.
Of course, it isn’t as simple as merely letting the government know you happen to be a long, lost nephew (or niece) of a person whose obit ran in yesterday’s newspaper. A genuine link has to be established, but if that link can indeed be verified, any one of a number of Scottish estates could be transfered to a formerly poor relative.
The list has 435 properties up for grabs, and it’s growing.
If you think you are entitled to claim an estate or castle, applications can be submitted here .
You can download the list for the rest of Scotland here .
The Scottish government made the process easier in the spring of 2016 when it passed the Succession Act, which removed several impediments to survivors’ claims. Prior to that, estates that were not specifically passed to family or friends were turned over to the Office of the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Rememberancer.
Now, someone must prove their connection to the person in question, and then the individual can more readily inherit not just a fabulous estate, but jewelry, cash and any other asset owned by the dead individual.
That might not be an easy thing to accomplish if one’s name is quite common, like Smith, Jones or another one that can be found by the hundreds in the phone books of many major cities.
But some names on the list, including Hunniball and Raube and Carlin, are not as frequently heard. Hence establishing that link might not be as onerous as one thinks.
The question is: even if one were lucky enough to have their claim verified and the keys to a massive, countryside estate were turned over, what then? Imagine the heating bills, assuming an estate built centuries ago even has a central heating system. Imagine the costs of getting warm in a chilly, damp, Scottish winter!
To say nothing of the expenses of hiring a gardener to look after the many acres of lush greenery that no doubt come with any country estate; those fees alone would be high enough to make one hope the house came with plenty of cash to maintain it.
However, one might be lucky enough to inherit a property in Glasgow or Edinburgh, and a quick glance at the government’s list online reveals that such homes are indeed vacant and just waiting to be claimed.
Wales and England have had similar lists available to the public for quite some time now. In fact, just this past summer a woman in her sixties, in London, discovered she was eligible to receive more than 300,000 pounds from a half-sister she had never known, or met.
What a windfall.
Whether it’s an elegant old estate in the country or a modest home in an urban setting, these homes are available to anyone who can make a legitimate claim to them.
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Why should they go to the Crown? Better they are inherited by family, even if it’s from a relative one never even knew existed.