A key point that the public should take away from this finding is that the hidden costs of dying intestate can often far exceed the cost of putting in place a simple Will. Individuals with little or no close family are more likely to have their estates subjected to the treatment described in the article as councils attempt to locate next-of-kin.

Those individuals should ask themselves whether they would prefer that their estates be left to friends or even charity instead, rather than a proportion evaporating in administration costs before their next-of-kin ever sees their inheritance. Even if an individual's wishes are similar or identical to the intestacy rules, a Will allows a testator to tailor their wishes and to provide their executors with more flexible powers, rather than resorting to the rigid intestacy rules. A Will also allows testators to set out substitute wishes in the face of unforeseen changes in circumstances, for example the unexpected death of a loved one.

A simple Will provides an individual with the peace of mind that their affairs will be properly administered after their death, and ensures that the intended recipients receive the appropriate amounts in a timely and efficient fashion, rather than waiting for the council's administrative process to run its course.

All of this is not to disregard the potential tax mitigation which can also be achieved from prudent and careful testamentary and lifetime estate planning.

{Next of kin are being landed with big fees just to claim inheritances when people die without a will because local authorities ignore guidelines on identifying rightful heirs, genealogists claim. Anglia Research, and international genealogy firm, said that freedom of information requests showed an increase of 90 per cent between 2016 and 2017 in the number of local authorities ignoring government procedure for dealing with the legacies of people who die intestate.}