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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
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If one suspects cash belonging to a deceased relation exists,

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If one suspects cash belonging to a deceased relation exists, how does one find out where it is and how long can the claim be after their death

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

-Could you explain your situation a little more?

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

My father was a merchant seaman and I was the last one to see him alive. He for some reason, mentioned to me, out of the blue "If anything happens to me your Mum will be alright"

He went back to sea and was drowned when the ship was sunk in the English Channel (this was in 1957)

We never did find the source of this information - presumably he was talking money and it was never found

His name George Victor Andrews (he was the cook on board)

The ship he was on was Lisbeth M

Our home address was 6 Dashwood Close, Belton, Gt.Yarmouth

His previous ship was Polly M

He had recently moved from the Polly to the Lisbeth



There is This is almost 50 years ago and the paper trail for this money will certainly have gone cold.

If you can find the money, there is no timescale within which it must be claimed although if it is in respect of any debts, there is a six-year period if it is money which is owed to your father as a result of any contractual arrangement or other formal debt.

Just other is no central register of Wills although there have been many attempts to put one together, there is also no central register of mortgages or savings or assets or pensions or life-insurance policies.

Even if someone were to die today, it is a case of going through their paperwork to try to find what assets and savings and insurance they had. It is not an easy task.

With no paperwork it is extremely time consuming..

I’m sorry to have to say this but don’t hang on to those words in the hope that there may be money somewhere. I know of many incidences where a person has said that their loved ones would be well taken care of and even down to the extent of them saying that they have written a will, when asked. When they have died the ones left behind have then discovered that not only were there no assets and no insurance and no savings but the was not even a will. I am not saying that is what has happened in your case but there is a possibility.

You can write to all the solicitors in the area to ask whether they had a will for your late father or any deeds or any assets because they will still have those documents if they have any but they are unlikely to have our details of any savings or bank accounts.

You could write to all the pension and life insurance companies in the UK (not an easy job and all the banks because they do have departments dealing with dormant bank accounts. You would need to include your proof of identity and a copy of your father’s death certificate. It really is going to be hard work and there is no easy way to do it. At this stage you are probably looking at at least 20 banking institutions and probably between 50 and 100 insurance companies.

Can I clarify anything for you?

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello Jo

Maybe now would be the time to create a register for accounts or investments which have not been active for maybe 2 years - it could be compulsory to either contact the owner or dependent to verify everything is ok or transfer assets to dependent etc.

Yours in anticipation


I think you are absolutely correct but until the government pass legislation to that effect, the banks and building societies do not have to do anything.

Remember that they have millions and millions of pounds in these accounts and therefore they actually have no vested interest in finding out who owns it!

There is a cost in tracing owners of such bank accounts and the legislation would need to allow the lender to remove the cost from the proceeds in the account.

I think it is a fantastic idea but I think that there are a lot of pitfalls which would need to be covered before it became workable.

I think for example it would be a good idea for everyone who applies for a bank account or has an existing bank account to put in a second and third contact who could be contacted in the event that the account holder can no longer be found at some stage in the future. There is more chance of finding one of three than just one person on their own. However all this is rather academic at the moment.