Each year people pass away and leave behind assets that their heirs never receive. The reason heirs never receive the assets is not because they are barred from doing so; it is because they rarely know that the assets exist. With few adults in the United States leaving behind wills and many forgetting to include a complete list of assets in their accounts, it is surprisingly easy for property to remain unclaimed for years. Recently, a man in Louisiana made history when he received $2.3 million in oil royalties that belonged to a deceased relative who did not include the property in their will. Knowing a few tips for finding lost assets could help ensure that your family does not fail to claim all of its inheritance.

Contact the Department of Insurance

For years, people throughout the country have complained about life insurance companies failing to make any effort to reach out to possible beneficiaries when a loved one passes away. In an effort to make things easier for beneficiaries, the California Department of Insurance allows individuals to fill out one form in order to check to see if any life insurance company holds a policy for a loved one. This process drastically reduces your chances of missing out on a life insurance policy by allowing you to quickly communicate with every company licensed to sell insurance in the state of California.

Check Unclaimed Property Sites

The gentleman in Louisiana found his millions thanks to the unclaimed property website run by Louisiana Department of the Treasury. California also has an unclaimed property website that lets you search for property that was held by your late loved one. This property can include royalties, state tax refunds, utility refunds, and amounts held in bank accounts for more than three years. In addition to checking with California’s unclaimed property site, also consider checking for unclaimed property in each state your deceased loved one may have lived.

Reach Out to Financial Institutions

Depending on when your loved one passed away, locating assets could be as simple as contacting their local bank. If your loved one had a party listed as a Payable on Death beneficiary, then transferring the assets is simple. In situations in which you do not know where your loved one banked, you may find clues by looking through old mail, home safes, or searching documents they had filed away. Contacting banks that they may have done business with them and providing a copy of the death certificate may help you locate previously unknown assets.

Encourage Your Loved Ones to Keep a List of Assets

Finding lost assets is possible, but it is not always easy. The best thing you can do is encourage your loved ones to keep a list of all of their assets to prevent them from ever being lost. The compassionate trust and estate lawyers at MMZ Law understand how sensitive the topic of estate planning is to broach with a loved one. When they are ready to talk about creating an estate plan, we are here to answer questions and help them create a plan that best reflects their wishes. Call our Claremont, California office today at 909-256-6702 to schedule a consultation so that we can begin providing you and your family with the legal advice you need.




341 W. 1st St. Suite 100
Claremont, CA 91711

MARIVEL M. ZIALCITA is the founder of MMZ LAW, A Professional Corporation, where she practices in the areas of Elder Law – Medi-Cal Planning Asset Protection, Trust & Estate, Special Needs, Conservatorship, Trust Administration, & Probate. Ms. Zialcita is a frequent speaker on trust and estate matters and holds memberships in the State Bar of California, Trust and Estate Section, The San Bernardino County Bar Association, Wealth Counsel and Elder Counsel. She currently assists in the pro bono legal services program at the James L. Brulte Senior Center in Rancho Cucamonga, California. She is based in Claremont but assists clients throughout Southern California.

This information is educational information only and not legal advice.