Unclaimed Property

Unclaimed Property and Florida Probate

Unclaimed or abandoned property refers to financial assets which have not had contact with its owner, are unknown or lost, or have been left inactive or not generated any activity by its owner, or are otherwise somehow unclaimed or abandoned by its owner.  Some common types of unclaimed property include bank accounts (both checking and savings accounts), stocks, annuities, certificates of deposit from financial institutions, uncashed dividends, payroll checks, traveler’s checks, trust distributions, unredeemed money orders, insurance payments or refunds, life insurance policy payments, utility security deposits, and even contents of safe deposit boxes.

Sometimes people inherit money and do not learn about this right away, or sometimes a close relative or friend dies without knowing there are funds due to them from such an inheritance which they had never claimed during their lifetime.  It may be wise to check online to determine if the decedent had any unclaimed property or if you may even be entitled to the money.

Here in Florida, if a holder of what is to become unclaimed property is unable to locate, re-establish contact with the owner and return the property, it is then remitted to the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Unclaimed Property.  The unclaimed property website is found at Florida’s Treasure Hunt, and the applicable statutes are found in Chapter 717 of the Florida Statutes.

While the legal term is “unclaimed property”, this refers typically to money rather than to real estate or real property. If you learn that there is unclaimed money in the name of a deceased relative, it may likely require hiring a probate lawyer to begin probate proceedings. Probate would be necessary in this circumstance because the unclaimed property will require someone with legal standing to receive the property in order to distribute it to the decedent’s beneficiaries.  Whether the probate is a summary administration (if the unclaimed property is less than $75,000) or a formal administration (for unclaimed property valued more than $75,000) will be a consideration for that probate lawyer.  Should you have questions regarding Florida unclaimed property, please consult your trusted probate lawyer.