Can I Claim Unclaimed Money From a Deceased Relative?

Relatives are entitled to unclaimed money belonging to a deceased family member.

Billions of dollars in unclaimed property collects dust each year in the unclaimed property divisions that are maintained by state governments across the country. Many of the assets that go unclaimed each year include old paychecks, utility refunds, stocks, bank accounts and the contents of safe deposit boxes. A substantial amount of this unclaimed money belongs to people who have died. Unclaimed money can legally be claimed by relatives of a deceased person.


Unclaimed Property

The unclaimed property division is managed by individual state governments. It is like a giant lost and found department. When companies owe someone money and cannot find the person -- or when a bank account goes untouched for three years and the owner can't be reached -- the money gets turned over to the state's unclaimed property division. The money sits in the government coffers until a claim is made by its owner or his heirs. State governments make serious efforts to locate owners and relatives of the unclaimed property by running newspaper ads listing the latest names of owners of unclaimed property. Some states even set up booths at carnivals and malls and pay for television and radio ads to raise public awareness of unclaimed property.


Search Process

Even if you missed one of the unclaimed property newspaper ads with a deceased relative's name listed on it, you can always do your own research. Make a list of all the deceased relatives you are interested in checking, including their Social Security numbers and birth dates. Make a list of all the states each of those relatives have lived in at some point in their lives and contact the treasury department or the department of revenue in each of those states to see if they have any assets in the unclaimed property division belonging to those deceased relatives. All you really need to claim the unclaimed assets of deceased relatives is proof of a relationship such as a birth certificate or a marriage license.


Insurance Policies

Many life insurance policy benefits go unclaimed because family members are not aware the policies exist. As people live longer it becomes more likely they will own life insurance polices they are no longer paying premiums on. If they throw the policy in a drawer and forget about it, the insurance company would have no way of knowing if the policy holder has died. Some professional services will help relatives locate unclaimed property belonging to deceased relatives for percentage of what they help collect.


No Statue of Limitations

There is no time limit on claiming unclaimed property from a deceased relative. All unclaimed property is held in safe hands and can be claimed at any point. The state never takes ownership of the money and charges no fees.