When my grandmother died, she owned a home, investments, and bank accounts. Because I was abroad for many years, I lost touch with family members like my grandmother and brother. My brother, one of two surviving beneficiaries of her estate, failed to locate and notify me that my grandmother had passed.
Recently, I received a letter from an individual identifying himself as a treasure hunter for unclaimed property in Florida. He stated that my grandmother may have left substantial assets remaining from a probate filed by my brother years earlier and a deficiency balance remaining from foreclosure on her home.
Q: Can I secure the unclaimed property assets of my grandmother without any need for a treasure hunter, and how do I begin to look for the unclaimed assets?
A: Money, property, or other assets that may belong to you could be sitting in the State of Florida unclaimed property office, waiting for you to claim it. State escheator offices hold billions of dollars belonging to millions of people. If the property remains unclaimed, it may become state property, known as Escheat. Relatives who file for the unclaimed property of a deceased person in Florida must file within 10 years before it escheats; otherwise, the State becomes the absolute property owner.
The unclaimed property becomes abandoned due to a change of address, a name change, or the death of an owner whereby the State was unaware of said assets or could not contact heirs. Often, an owner knows about an asset but is unaware that it has been abandoned and turned over to the State. One of the most common ways that property becomes unclaimed is when someone dies without a Last Will or a Trust, and institutions such as banks, credit unions, and insurance or investment companies turn unclaimed assets over to the State of Florida.
Treasure hunters make a living researching owners of unclaimed property by requesting a fee of 10% – 60% of the value of the unclaimed property. There is no requirement to hire a treasure hunter when you can locate the property at www.FLTreasureHunt.gov or https://myfloridacfo.com/division/unclaimedproperty/home. In most instances, it might be necessary to enlist the services of an estate probate attorney to transfer the ownership of inherited assets.
Would you rather your chosen beneficiaries or the State receive your assets? If you have no Will or Trust, your assets may end up in the hands of the State or in possession of someone falsifying a claim to be an heir simply because your intended beneficiaries were unaware that you had died. Avoid having your assets become the property of the State by consulting with an estate planning attorney today.