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Right now, there are billions of dollars worth of unclaimed property across the United States. This is because sometimes a person dies without having accounted for all their assets, which they may have accidentally forgotten or abandoned.
The good news is that it is often possible for family members or estate administrators to locate and obtain this property so that it can go to the intended beneficiaries. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) is the government organization responsible for returning unclaimed assets, including inheritances, to their rightful owners.
What Is Unclaimed Property?
Unclaimed property is the result of forgotten or abandoned assets, and this property originates from various sources. These include:
State laws mandate that organizations such as banks or utility providers report and turn over any unclaimed assets to the appropriate state agency after three to five years, depending on the state.
Whether or not you believe you have unclaimed inheritance, it may be worth finding out. Here are a few ways you can do that.
Search National Databases
There are a few online databases that aggregate the unclaimed property data that each state’s Treasury department reports. The NAUPA’s own website, http://www.unclaimed.org/, is a particularly helpful place to start. They will direct you to the government unclaimed property page of the state in which the decedent was living. You simply need to fill out your loved one’s name and address and see if any results emerge from the search.
Try Alternate Spellings or Addresses
If no results come up after your initial search, it is worth trying different variations of the person’s name and address. Some government databases will only offer a match if the person’s name is exactly as they have it. This means that you will need to try alternatives such as:
This is also true for addresses (e.g., “Walnut St.” versus “Walnut Street”). Try different combinations of addresses and names just to ensure that you have covered all possibilities.
Work with a Prince William County Will Lawyer
In some cases, you may have reason to believe that your relative or loved one left a significant amount of unclaimed assets behind. In these cases, it is worth hiring a professional who will know what steps to take to help locate anything that might still be out there.
While recovering unclaimed estate property is possible, it is certainly not straightforward. Ideally, this process is something you will want to ensure that your heirs do not have to go through themselves. Working with an experienced Prince William County will lawyer can help you ensure that your assets and property are distributed in as smooth a manner as possible when you are gone, eliminating the guesswork and possible conflict that can emerge if you did not make adequate preparations in advance. If you’d like information about how to start this process for your family’s protection and peace of mind, contact our law firm at 703-492-9955.