But for a lucky few sitting on an inheritance they never knew about, this fantasy may not be just a pipe dream – and it’s definitely not an internet scam.
Every year hundreds of people in the UK die without a will, leaving behind their property, money and other possessions as unclaimed estates.
If a blood relative cannot be found, and the dead person’s assets are worth more than £500, their estate will pass to the Crown.
There are more than 7,500 such estates still lying heirless in England and Wales, potentially worth hundreds of millions.
Long lost relatives of the deceased people – potential heirs to their estate – have 30 years to make a claim to the Bona Vacantia division (BVD) of the Government Legal Department, which keeps the assets in limbo on behalf of the Crown.
Here’s everything you need to know – and how to make your claim.
Lancashire’s unclaimed estates
The BVD is currently sitting on seven unclaimed estates from people who died without an heir in Lancashire over the last 30 years.
Between them, the deceased people had seven surnames, which could be clues to help track down relatives.
Everyone from nieces, nephews, half siblings and their offspring, cousins and half aunts or uncles could have a stake in a person’s estate.
That’s if husbands, wives, parents, children, grandchildren and siblings cannot be tracked down, all of whom come higher up the inheritance pecking order.
The list of surnames in Lancashire as of October 15 is:
Bibby, Houlton, Hughes, Johnson, Payne, Rooke, Smith
This list is not exhaustive – it does not include people who were born in Lancashire but died elsewhere in the country or abroad.
And of course families nowadays are spread out all over the country, so relatives could be dotted around in different regions.
That means you could still be in with a shot at some unclaimed riches, even if you do not have a connection with someone on the Lancashire list.
How to check the list and make a claim
The full list of unclaimed estates in England and Wales is here.
The BVD handles unclaimed estates in England and Wales, except where the estate is held by the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster – that’s if the estate is in Cornwall or the historic county palatine of Lanaster
Anyone who thinks they have a claim can send in a family tree showing how they are related to the person who died, including the dates of birth, marriage and death of all those on the tree.
The BVD will then ask for extra documentary evidence if they think they may be entitled to a claim.