This week's top news stories included a homeless woman in Oregon who passed away with over $800,000 of inheritance monies due to her from her late mother's Estate. Unfortunately, when the personal representative of the Estate had previously tried to locate the woman, he was unsuccessful and the funds were sent to Oregon's unclaimed property department to hold. Now, Oregon's unclaimed property department will wait for the personal representative of the woman's Estate or rightful heirs to claim the property.
What can we learn from this?
First, it is a good idea to periodically check the Pennsylvania Unclaimed Property website (or any other State's website where you may have unclaimed property) to ensure that the Commonwealth is not holding monies due to you. If there are monies due to you, you can follow the prompts on the website which include typing in identifying information, such as your name and city of residence, in order to generate a list of possible claims. A step-by-step tutorial is provided below.
Secondly, after the death of a loved one, the personal representative, estate attorney or next-of-kin should check the Pennsylvania Unclaimed Property website (or any other State where the Decedent may have unclaimed property) for any unclaimed monies due to the Estate. The personal representative (or possibly the next-of kin if there's no personal representative) can then submit a claim form and request that the funds be paid out. It is our practice to routinely check for unclaimed property when dealing with estates.
In both cases, it may take several months before you actually receive the money, but it's worth taking a minute to check and claim any monies due to you. According to the Pennsylvania Treasury Department's website, Pennsylvania is currently holding $3.8 billion in unclaimed property!
How to claim your unclaimed property:
Type in your identifying information such as last name, first name, and city. It can be helpful to conduct a broad search (i.e. last name only) as some identifying information may be have been incomplete when the funds were sent to the Commonwealth.
When looking through the results, you should click "add" for any results that appear to be yours.
Once you are done adding your claims, click "Claim Properties in my Cart." This will generate a new screen requesting additional information to generate your claim form(s).
Fill in the requesting information in the online form, then click "submit."
Once the new screen appears, click " Generate PDF". You will need to print and finish completing the form per the specific instructions provided. In some cases, you may need to have documents notarized and include additional documentation with your claim.
Send in your claim forms and wait. If you provided your e-mail address, you should receive a tracking number via e-mail to track the status of your claim.
The unclaimed property process is intended to be user-friendly. If your search shows that you have unclaimed property and are unsure how to proceed, we are happy to assist you.