What is an estate?

Where a person domiciled in Scotland dies without leaving a Will and has no known or traceable successors, then their assets (such as land, buildings, shares and cash) fall to the Crown in Scotland.

These assets are called their “estate”. Please note that the word "estate" in Scottish succession law does not imply the existence of an "estate" in the sense of a sporting estate or a castle. We are unaware of any unclaimed castles or country stately homes etc. that currently belong to the Crown as ultimus haeres.

The King's and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (KLTR) is the Crown’s agent in Scotland that is able to deal with estates. These are gathered in by the KLTR Office; and, once the surplus after the deceased person's debts and the funeral account have been paid, fall to the Crown.

Unclaimed estates and how to claim

This office will not assist you in tracing relatives or establishing any claim, nor are we able to provide you with legal advice. We recommend that you consider taking legal advice from a solicitor qualified in Scots law. The Law Society of Scotland may be able to provide you with assistance with instructing a solicitor in Scotland.

If you believe that you have a valid claim to an estate held by the KLTR and wish to apply for Confirmation, then we would strongly recommend that you should consider seeking legal advice from a solicitor qualified in Scots law. In due course, you would require to contact the relevant local Sheriff Court. The Commissary Department or a solicitor will advise on the evidence required to support the application and on the duties of an executor.

Where relatives are found

Legitimate heirs for unclaimed estates can appear later and, provided they prove that they are a successor to this Office in an appropriate manner, then the net assets of the estate can be paid to them by this Office in line with the policies of the KLTR. In terms of Scottish succession law and the policies of the KLTR, this office may pay over unclaimed estate funds to an executor for the deceased that is named in the Confirmation issued for the deceased’s estate. “Confirmation” is the official document in Scotland that essentially grants authority for an individual to deal with the affairs of a deceased person. Confirmation is issued by the Commissary Department of the relevant local Sheriff Court in Scotland.

Reporting a death

Where there has been a death and there is 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:

Contact us

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

Telephone number

0300 020 4196


Email us at _NationalUltimusHaeresUnit@copfs.gov.uk(link sends e-mail).

The National Ultimus Haeres Unit (NUHU), makes preliminary enquiries to check whether there is a Will or known spouse, civil partner or blood relatives. On receipt of a potential UH estate for investigation, NUHU add the details of the estate to their list of estates under investigation (Deaths Being Investigated as potential UH Estates) to allow an entitled person to claim it .

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