How to Find Hidden Estate Assets from a Deceased Loved One

Ross Quade | Financial | 8 Apr, 2014 | No Comments

If you are faced with looking for hidden estate assets from a loved one who has passed away, you may be finding that it can be a difficult process. There are numerous places to look, but not all of them will reward your search with a conclusive outcome. When there are suspected assets beyond the home and immediate accounts, knowing where to look can be half the battle. Try these places first, and see what type of connections can be found.

First: Look Through the Deceased’s Home

This may be difficult for some people because it feels like they are invading the privacy of the person who passed away. However, the reality is that the person’s home needs to be sorted through at some point either way, so taking the time to look for potential company connections at the beginning could help. Write down any companies you come across that could have a financial connection to your family member, from clubs to credit unions. Also, make sure you look through hiding places around that person’s home for stashed ‘treasures’. You may find cash, collectibles, or even documentation that can help you in your search.

Second: Contact the Companies on Your List

All of the companies that were listed in the search of the person’s home should now be contacted. You should send a certified copy of the probate along with a certified copy of the death certificate along with your requests for any information they have so they can see you are being serious and have a right to know the answers. If you include a pre-stamped and addressed envelope, most companies will send you back the certified copies so that you can save on the expense of having to pay for more.

Third: Search Online for Unclaimed Property

Most states offer some type of website where family members can search for unclaimed assets from anywhere within the state. You should search under the person’s name, ‘the estate of’ the person’s name, and any other terms you consider applicable to your family member. Most states try to put each item under just the person’s name, but they are not always successful.

There have been many documented cases in recent years where families have found hundreds, and even thousands of dollars from a loved one that passed away, in the years following their deaths. Most of the time, these family members never even knew about the assets in the first place. One such woman was handed a check for just shy of $15,000 by the West Virginia Treasurer’s Office, and Good Morning America was there to record the entire thing. Find out more here.

Fourth: Locate Old Tax Returns

Old tax returns can be a valuable piece of information when it comes to finding potential sources of income or savings. You can contact these companies and find out if there is any retirement income or old financial connections that are still available under the person’s name that passed away. With the right documentation, this process can often go quickly and smoothly.

Fifth: Contact Companies Located Through Probate Court

Probate court can go quickly, but for most families, it is a long and drawn out process. Once the probate court offers some places to look or companies that are definitely connected to your loved one, add them to the list of places you send your documentation out to and see what you get in return.

The estate encompasses everything that person owned when they passed away, no matter how big or how small, and all of those assets were important. Just make sure you look for all of the hidden estate assets, even if they are not obvious, so that nothing is forgotten. The last thing you want is to have something important fall to the wayside that could have been ongoing within the family after the person passed.

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