Probate for Unclaimed Assets: Navigating the Process to Claim Deceased Estates


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Recovering Unclaimed Properties Through Probate

Discover how Perigon Legal Services can assist you in navigating the complexities of probate for unclaimed assets, ensuring your rights are protected and assets are rightfully claimed.

Author: Stan Faulkner, Founder, Perigon Legal Services, LLC

Mr. Faulkner is an experienced counselor and litigator with 15 years of experience, having held bar licenses in four states (Mo, Il, Ct and Ga). Stan Faulkner uses this experience and focuses his skills in the pursuit of assisting individuals in probate (trust and estate) matters, guardianships and conservatorships, estate planning, business disputes and contract disputes. Published on May 06, 2024.

When a loved one passes away, they often leave behind more than just memories. In some cases, there are assets that go unclaimed, either because they were unknown to the family or because the deceased relative or legal heirs were not immediately identifiable. This is where the probate process becomes crucial. 

Probate is the judicial procedure by which a decedent’s estate is managed and distributed. Handling unclaimed assets with care and a detailed focus is essential in honoring the deceased’s legacy and ensuring rightful ownership is upheld according to the laws of the state.

Our experience in estate planning and probate law extends a caring hand to those feeling overwhelmed by the responsibilities that come with managing a loved one’s unclaimed assets. Trust us at Perigon Legal Services to handle your probate matters with the highest level of professionalism and a personal touch. 

Understanding Probate for Unclaimed Assets

Probate is a legal procedure in which a court oversees the distribution of assets left by a deceased individual, known as the decedent. Unclaimed assets are those that have not been claimed by rightful heirs or beneficiaries. These assets may include bank accounts, securities, insurance policies, and other forms of property that have not been properly transferred or accessed after the owner’s death.

Why Unclaimed Assets End up in Probate

Unclaimed assets may end up in probate because there is no clear beneficiary or the beneficiaries are unaware of their unclaimed inheritance. Without proper estate planning, such as naming beneficiaries in life insurance policies or retirement accounts, these assets go through probate for a court to determine their rightful ownership.

    The Role of Probate in Claiming Unclaimed Assets

    Probate aids the lawful transfer of unclaimed assets from deceased relatives. The process ensures that any debt or taxes owed by the decedent are paid before assets are distributed to heirs. We help guide our clients through this complex procedure.

    1. Filing a petition: To initiate probate, we file a petition with the appropriate probate court.
    2. Appointment of executor: The court appoints an executor to handle the estate.
    3. Notification of heirs and creditors: Heirs and creditors must be notified as per legal requirements.
    4. Inventory of the estate: A detailed inventory of the decedent’s assets is compiled.
    5. Settlement of debts: The executor pays any outstanding debts and taxes.
    6. Distribution of assets: Remaining assets are distributed according to the will or state law.

    The Bureau of the Fiscal Service provides further guidance on identifying unclaimed assets held by the federal government, which is also an essential part of the probate process when applicable. Throughout the probate process, our role is to ensure that every client’s probate experience is managed with precision, care, and unparalleled attentiveness to every aspect of their estate’s administration. 

    We remain dedicated to safeguarding their legacy and financial assets and providing peace of mind that their final wishes are honored.

    Steps to Take When Dealing with Unclaimed Assets in Probate

    When it comes to the search for unclaimed assets, meticulous attention to detail is important. Here’s a concise guide to navigating these waters:

    1. Legal documentation: Confirm your entitlement to the asset and gather necessary legal documents such as the will, death certificate, and estate paperwork.
    2. Probate court: File a petition with the probate court to be appointed as the estate representative if not already designated. Contact us to assist in opening an estate bank account for the decedent’s assets.
    3. Asset inventory: Create a comprehensive list of all unclaimed assets, ensuring nothing is overlooked. We can help establish the date-of-death values, which most states require.
    4. Debts and taxes: Prioritize paying off the estate’s debts and taxes. As your advocates, we can ensure all financial obligations are met before distributions.
    5. Distribution: Once cleared, the assets can be distributed to the rightful beneficiaries. We meticulously manage this process, soliciting necessary permissions where required.

    Navigating state-specific inheritance laws can be complex. Some assets may require particular attention or additional legal processes. Trust in our ability to guide you through each step. We treat every case with the focus and personalized attention it requires, ensuring that your unclaimed inheritance money and probate matters are resolved with the utmost professionalism.

    Avoiding Probate for Unclaimed Assets

    Unclaimed assets can be a significant concern for many individuals planning their estates, and initial planning is crucial. The benefits of initial planning include:

    • Protecting beneficiary interests: Sets a clear path for asset allocation.
    • Reducing legal complications: Minimizes the chance of disputes.
    • Preventing state claims: Keeps assets from reverting to government custody.

    We utilize the following strategies to avoid probate:

    1. Designation of Beneficiaries: Assigning beneficiaries for accounts like IRAs and 401(k)s.
    2. Joint Ownership: Holding property jointly with the right of survivorship.
    3. Trust Creation: Establishing trusts to transfer assets outside of probate.

    We meticulously handle each detail of your estate plan with the utmost precision. Our comprehensive and skillful approach ensures that your estate planning and asset management not only meet but exceed your expectations. For Georgia residents looking for specific guidance, we offer insights on how to avoid probate within the state, tailored to its unique legal framework.

    How Perigon Legal Services Can Help With the Probate Process

    When tasked with probate issues, especially those involving unclaimed property and assets, navigating the legal landscape can be daunting. We stand as your dedicated partner through this intricate process. Our Atlanta-based team offers comprehensive services to cater to all your probate needs. Our skilled approach ensures all documentation is handled accurately and promptly—with the attention to detail you deserve. 

    How we can help:

    • We guide executors and beneficiaries through probate administration and on how to probate a will, overseeing the distribution of assets according to the will or state law if no will is present.
    • For unclaimed assets, we are skilled in locating potential heirs and validating claims to ensure rightful distribution.
    • Our attorneys provide robust representation in court, submitting necessary petitions and managing legal proceedings on your behalf.
    • We simplify the probate process and steps involved, providing clear guidance. 
    • We assist in creating strategies that can help avoid probate altogether. 

    In Need of Assistance? Schedule a Consultation

    Navigating the probate court system and its complexities can be challenging, especially while grieving. At Perigon Legal Services, we understand the intricacies of probate for unclaimed assets and provide comprehensive guidance to our clients through this process. 

    We take pride in our ability to meticulously manage every aspect of your case, from locating unclaimed assets to ensuring they reach the proper beneficiaries. We encourage family members and those in need of compassionate and professional probate assistance to reach out to us for professional guidance and support. 

    We are here to ensure that the probate process is handled with the dedication and skill that your family’s legacy deserves.

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