What Happens to Unclaimed Inheritance?

millman law group unclaimed inheritance

Learn more about what can lead to unclaimed inheritance and how you can prevent this scenario.

Estate planning is quite complex, so working with an estate planning attorney is essential as you prepare your Will and other legal documents. You must take every precaution to draw up a detailed estate plan to avoid future problems. One of those problems is unclaimed inheritance. When a Will is unclear, or an estate owner does not communicate with their beneficiaries, assets can go unclaimed by potential heirs. Learn more about this situation and how The Millman Law Group can help you avoid it. 

How Does Inheritance Go Unclaimed?

There are a few situations in which there may be unclaimed inheritance from an estate. First, if someone dies intestate (without a Will). This results in the absence of legal documents that would have described how the decedent’s estate should be divided. When this estate enters probate, inheritors can file petitions to claim their stake in the estate. However, multiple people can file petitions, making this quite complicated. The court will ultimately follow state intestacy laws to distribute assets. 

There may also be a case where heirs are unaware they have an unclaimed inheritance. Finally, an heir may deny their inheritance. This is called a “disclaimer of inheritance” and requires the heir to submit a valid legal document to formally refuse an inheritance. 

What Happens When an Inheritance is Unclaimed? 

When someone dies intestate, or someone enters a disclaimer of inheritance, the court will follow intestate succession rules. These rules favor the decedent’s next-of-kin. The first in line is typically the surviving spouse, then any surviving children. Regarding disclaimed inheritance, the court will treat the heir as “predeceased” and follow the succession rules. 

There are rare cases where the court cannot identify an heir or when an inheritance goes unclaimed because no one was aware of it. Property is forfeited to the state when this happens, a legal term called “escheat.” The rules of escheat vary by state. 

Can You Get Unclaimed Inheritance Back?

If you know you have an unclaimed inheritance in a Will, you can do a few things to get it back. First, determine the company that holds the assets and claim the asset directly from them. These holders are legally required to make attempts to contact owners regarding the property. 

You might also search for unclaimed inheritance by visiting unclaimed.org. Once there, you will be connected to your state or province’s unclaimed property program to conduct a free search. If you locate an unclaimed inheritance, you may file a free claim with the state holding the asset. 

Avoid Confusion By Creating a Will Today 

Unclaimed inheritance may result in giving assets to an individual in a way that goes against the decedent’s wishes. It may also take assets away from heirs who are alive and well but are unaware of the inheritance. If you want to prevent any of these situations from occurring, create a comprehensive Will today. 

When you create your Will with an experienced estate planning attorney at The Millman Law Group, you will have someone by your side who ensures that no detail goes unnoticed. Creating a Will and communicating with your heirs about their inclusion will help prevent unclaimed inheritance in the future. 

Estate Planning Made Easy With Millman Law Group

Millman Law Group, PLLC is rare because it’s one of the only law firms that offer life planning in South Florida. From life care planning to the preparation of detailed estate plans, Millman Law Group has committed to serving Floridian elderly communities in Boca Raton, Palm Beach County, Ocean Ridge, Hillsboro Beach, and many other areas since 2018. Our dedicated team also specializes in special needs Trusts and catering to any age demographic because we know for certain it’s never too early to start preparing you and your family for your future. For the latest news in estate planning and elder care law, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and Pinterest. You can also contact us at 561-463-6480.