I’m often asked for details of the website used by the Heir Hunters on British TV programmes. You can access it at http://www.bonavacantia.gov.uk/output/estates-list.aspx which gives an excellent explanation of how the system works.
The list details estates referred from 1 January 1997 onwards which according to current information have not been claimed by entitled kin.
Firstly, you need to know whether you are entitled to share in the estate. Not all blood relatives who have survived a deceased person have such an entitlement. Under the Administration of Estates Act 1925, if a person has died without leaving a will and there is no surviving spouse, anyone who is descended from a grandparent of the deceased would be entitled to share in his or her estate. If you are related by marriage (e.g. if the deceased person was your step-father or mother or your brother or sister-in-law – although your children might be entitled in the latter case) then you have no legal entitlement to share in that person’s estate.
The relationship of half-brother and stepbrother (or sister) can sometimes become confused. A halfbrother or sister shares a common parent with the deceased person (ie. the parent has married twice and has produced a child of each marriage) and is entitled to share in the estate. A stepbrother or sister does not share a common parent with the deceased person (ie. one of the deceased’s parents has married someone who already has a child) and is not entitled to share in the estate.