When we think about the assets in our estate, it's natural to consider the more tangible and immediate items like real estate, bank accounts, and personal belongings. However, there are often overlooked assets that may have significant value and can easily become unclaimed property and create implications in the probate process.
What Is Unclaimed Property?
Unclaimed property refers to financial assets or accounts that have been inactive or forgotten for an extended period. Common examples include dormant bank accounts, uncashed checks, forgotten life insurance policies, and unclaimed stock dividends.
In Texas, financial institutions are required to report unclaimed property to the Texas Comptroller's Office after a certain period of inactivity, usually around three years. The state then holds these assets indefinitely until the rightful owner or their heirs come forward to claim them.
Unclaimed property can complicate the probate process in Texas. As an executor or personal representative of an estate, it is your responsibility to locate and claim any unclaimed property that belongs to the decedent. While there isn't a specific section in the Texas Estates Code outlining the process for claiming unclaimed property on behalf of a decedent's estate, Chapter 74 of the Texas Property Code governs unclaimed property and includes provisions for claiming such property.
Chapter 74 of the Texas Property Code and Claiming Unclaimed Property
This chapter is also known as the Texas Unclaimed Property Act and it outlines the procedures for reporting, delivering, and claiming unclaimed property in Texas.
The act requires holders of unclaimed property to report and deliver these assets to the Texas Comptroller's Office after a certain period of inactivity and the rightful owner, heir, or legal representative must file a claim with the Texas Comptroller's Office to claim the unclaimed property. The claim must include the claimant's name, address, and a description of the property. Additionally, the claimant must provide proof of their right to the property, such as a birth certificate, death certificate, or Letters Testamentary.
By following the procedures outlined in Chapter 74 of the Texas Property Code, executors and personal representatives can ensure that unclaimed property is properly identified, claimed, and distributed as part of the decedent's estate.
Unclaimed property can be a hidden treasure in the probate process, and it's important for executors and beneficiaries to be proactive in locating and claiming these assets. By doing so, you can ensure that the decedent's estate is fully and accurately distributed according to their wishes.
For personalized assistance in locating and claiming unclaimed property or navigating the probate process in Texas, consult an experienced probate attorney familiar with Texas law.
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