The little known rules about Unclaimed Property
By definition, Dashboards are a process-driven tool that focuses on what matters to you and your family’s financial well-being. Over the last several years, we have added a small but at times powerful step in estate settlement cases...checking for unclaimed property via the escheatment process.
Escheatment is a common law doctrine that transfers the real property of a person who died without heirs to the crown or state. Although the origins of this date back to land feuds in early England, this is essentially now a process to return lost or unclaimed assets or property to state governments for "safekeeping" until the owner is identified. If the rightful owner does not claim these assets within a set amount of time, they will become property of the state.
Our Dashboard Planning Process is designed to prevent anything from "falling through the cracks" with regards to the financial lives of our clients. The last thing we want is for a lost or forgotten asset to be subsumed by the states in which we reside rather than passed on to heirs.
The last thing we want is for a lost or forgotten asset belonging to a client family to be subsumed by the state. A simple unclaimed property search may uncover assets that heirs did not know existed or could have been forgotten.
There have been numerous instances of successful recovery of unclaimed property, which is why we at Dashboard will challenge all of our estate related cases to include a search for lost or unclaimed property as part of our process. Very recently we had a client inform us that they were able to recover a large amount of money through an unclaimed property search. After a family member had passed, the surviving adult children worked diligently to find anything that could have been overlooked or forgotten. In their case, the payoff was incredible – a tax-free check for over $100,000 of unclaimed pension assets. While this amazing result may not be common, it is certainly worth taking a little time to perform your own unclaimed property search.
The following site www.unclaimed.org is a great place to start if you’d like to search on a state-by-state basis. You can also search via www.missingmoney.com, which allows for multi-state searches. We frequently work with our attorney partners on estate resolution matters, and simply adding this one step to the process can help uncover assets that heirs did not know existed or could have simply been forgotten.