Ultimus Haeres

Where a person dies intestate (i.e. does not leave a Will) and either has no spouse, civil partner or blood relative or none who can be easily traced, the estate both moveable and heritable (i.e. cash, shares, pension etc and land or buildings), is claimed for the Crown by the QLTR as ultimus haeres (last heir). Those assets are ingathered by the QLTR Office and, after the deceased person's debts including the funeral account have been paid, the remainder falls to the QLTR. As explained below, however, heirs often do later appear and, provided they prove relationship, the net assets of the estate can be paid to them.

Where there has been a death and there are apparently no spouse, civil partner or blood relatives, the death should be reported immediately to the National Ultimus Haeres Unit. The contact details for the National Ultimus Haeres Unit are as follows:

National Ultimus Haeres Unit
Procurator Fiscal Office
Cameronian House
3/5 Almada Street

Telephone number - 0300 020 4196

Email - _NationalUltimusHaeresUnit@copfs.gsi.gov.uk

The National Ultimus Haeres Unit (NUHU), makes preliminary enquiries to check whether there is a Will or known spouse, civil partner or blood relatives. The Unit - often in co-operation with the Local Authority's Legal or Housing or Social Work Department - may therefore visit the house and have a word with neighbours. Relevant papers, bank and building society passbooks, rent and pension books, driving and TV licences, passport, personal address book etc. are collected and forwarded to the QLTR Office with a completed F8 (Statement of Particulars) which gives written details of the deceased person (such as age, parents' names). Essentially the form gives as much background information as may be known about the dead person and lists known assets and debts. On receipt of a potential UH estate for investigation, NUHU add the details of the estate to their list of estates under investigation, to allow an entitled person to claim it. NB: their list is hosted on the QLTR website.

When the QLTR office receives a UH estate from NUHU, the details of the estate are added to the QLTR website. We will not normally commence administration for 12 weeks after an estate is reported to us by NUHU to give a further opportunity for an entitled person to claim the estate before our administration commences.  Once administration of an estate has commenced, it will be administered to conclusion (and the appropriate fee charged), even if a relative appears in the course of that work. It is only on completion of administration of an estate that the QLTR is able to add the net value of the estate and move the estate onto their unclaimed estates list.  The estates of these people are advertised on the website as "having fallen to the Crown", but in fact the great majority will subsequently be paid to blood relatives on production of a document known as Confirmation. Genealogists on their own initiative may have traced the nearest blood relative and drawn the advertisement to his or her attention.

Confirmation is the document issued by the Commissary Department of the Sheriff Court in the area in which the deceased lived at the time of death. Confirmation appoints the blood relative as "executor-dative". When this document is presented to the QLTR Office, with other supporting papers, it enables the relative to uplift the net assets held by the Office.

The QLTR's policies can be found on this website - see the link on the Home Page. The policies include a Section on ultimus haeres estates and provide further information on the QLTR's requirements for anyone who considers they are an entitled claimant in relation to any such estate.

EH6 6QQ 

NOTE- more general guidance re 'What to do after a death in Scotland' can be obtained from the Scottish Government Website