Inheritance money, including bonds, trust funds and estates, can easily be lost because of a variety of circumstances. Maybe a deceased relative left no written will, switched funds over to another bank, had several address changes, kept an unknown security deposit box, left behind a contested estate or had a life insurance policy that was never cashed in. Several methods can work for finding lost inheritance money for anyone who decides to search for it.
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Make a list of assets. Record how much money your family owns in various banks, trusts, stocks, insurance policies and bonds so that you have a way of tracking money if it becomes lost. Also, if you keep copies of bills, pay stubs and bank books, you will have written proof that the inheritance money belongs to you.
Contact relatives. Especially if you have reclusive or faraway relatives that live in a different state or country, they may be able to provide you information on any lost inheritance money
Contact the unclaimed property office in your state. If there is no known address to send inheritance money to, it is taken by the state. If you believe there is family inheritance money in the possession of the state, write or call the unclaimed property office in the state of the inheritance estate, and the office will check the databases. If there is a match, the property office will send a form you can fill out to claim the money.
Search unclaimed money websites. There are several websites, such as missingmoney.com, that will search government databases to check for any lost inheritance money. Some websites charge a fee for this information, so you're probably better off contacting an unclaimed property office, where such information is free.
Hire a lawyer. If inheritance money is lost because of a financial dispute or a technicality in a contested will, hiring an estate lawyer to sort through legalities may be the best option. An estate lawyer will be knowledgeable about the legal process and can provide valuable assistance in tracking down lost inheritance money.
Tips and warnings
- Avoid paying tracer fees. If you have lost inheritance money, you may be contacted by a tracer. A tracer accesses state databases and tracks down people to tell them they have inheritance money; they will tell you how to get it for a percentage of the money. However, this information can be found by anyone who contacts the state.
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