Help me figure out if there's any way to claim a deceased family member's unclaimed property
January 20, 2008 6:22 PM   Subscribe

Help me figure out if there's any way to claim a deceased family member's unclaimed property

My father (who was estranged from the family for a while) is deceased.

He had funds in a bank account at the time of his death, which was almost a decade ago. Internet searches revealed the dollar amount for his unclaimed funds. After talking to family members, I was able to get the name and account number at the bank where the funds were. In fact, I have the unused checks from this account.

Problem is, the bank where the funds were held no longer was bought and absorbed by a larger bank several years ago. Calls to the new bank yielded no information as the account number is no longer valid. I believe I can pursue the matter with the state where my father lived, but I believe I need the death certificate and this is long lost. I don't know how to get a new death certificate issued.

Do any of you have enough knowledge to walk me through the process for tracking down and claiming this unclaimed property? The dollar amount is not huge, but it's large enough that I think it's worth pursuing. Not only that, this is all that I have of my father, and I'd like to think this would be a gift that he'd be giving me all these years later. (I've talked to my other family members. Since they are quite comfortable financially they have said that they are not interested in pursuing this matter and are happy to let me have the money, if I am able to claim it. They have agreed to sign any necessary paperwork, etc.)

Time is of the essence because I believe it's nearing the time limit for unclaimed property.
posted by mintchip to Work & Money (6 answers total)
If the bank was absorbed into another bank, then the bank's accounts still exist. You need to call the bank's legal department, not its account department and may also have to file a claim in the state your father's account and property were in.
posted by parmanparman at 6:25 PM on January 20, 2008

I don't know how to get a new death certificate issued.

It depends on what state you live in, but generally, every state has a "Vital Records" office. You should be able to go to the vital records department in your state (they might have it setup for online), and since you're a child of the deceased, for a fee, issue you a copy of the death certificate. If he was declared dead at a hospital, they might be able to help you as well (but not sure on that route, though I know it works for birth certificates.)
posted by Atreides at 6:29 PM on January 20, 2008

Check out your state's (or the state your father lived in) unclaimed property website.
posted by gjc at 6:38 PM on January 20, 2008

Did a little additional research and seems like there is more to this. I believe the estate has been closed but I'm not sure. How do I find out about this?

The form to claim property in this state I need to furnish "a copy of the probated will, petition for discharge, order of discharge and a copy of the docket sheet" in order to satisfy that the estate is closed. What are these and where can I get them from? The family member who handled all of this lost all of the paperwork, and since I wasn't involved in closing the estate I don't know anything about where these forms come from.
posted by mintchip at 6:52 PM on January 20, 2008

If the estate is actually closed already, the Register in Probate should have it copies of the records, I would think. (Ours does.) Go to the county where he died and see if they have it.
posted by Madamina at 6:58 PM on January 20, 2008

Whether or not an estate was opened, one can be opened or reopened whenever there is additional property found. In many states, there is an "express lane" form of probate whenever the property in question is under a certain amount. In my state it is now about $17,000. You will need to consult with legal counsel in the state where he was living when he died.
posted by megatherium at 8:06 PM on January 20, 2008

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