How to Find a Missing Inheritance

by Reader Contributors

How do you go about finding a missing inheritance or find out if one ever existed? Our readers who have been through the search share their advice.

Gary,
Awhile back my father passed away. How do I go about finding if my father left me a trust fund, an insurance policy, or any bank account he might have had? I have no living relatives to ask about this. Thanks for any help you or your readers might offer.
M.

Start at the Library

I work in finance and do a great deal of estate work. If you know the last town your father was living in, call the local library and ask to speak with the director. Tell him or her you are searching for anyone who knew your father or knew of him. I often do this for clients.

Most municipal, state, town offices, or private agencies like attorneys or banks will not give out information due to the Patriot Act and Privacy laws in the U.S. Libraries, on the other hand, know people in the community and will be helpful. I usually leave my name and phone number, and the name of whom I am looking for, and any information I have (i.e. last address or place of work), and ask the director to bring it up at the next staff meeting. The director may be new, but one of the librarians may know of the person or know a former librarian who may help.

I recently found a client’s relative this way. The man had been a custodian at a local school and, unfortunately, died with more debts than assets, but at least my client had closure. Privacy laws have made it much more difficult to find people.
Clare

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Look for Unclaimed Funds

Unclaimed.org is a good place to start. Look up unclaimed money or funds on a search engine. Each state also has an unclaimed fund site on their state websites. Sometimes you will find money on one site that isn’t on another.
J

Check with Former Employers

Check with all known former employers of your father. My father worked both a full-time and part-time job for years and even had life insurance at the company where he worked part time. My mother gets a pension check from the part-time job even though he was too young to receive it in his lifetime.
Joan

Visit This Free National Website

If the writer’s father had any assets that haven’t already been distributed, it’s quite likely the property has already been turned over to the state. The easiest way to check is to go to the free national website at MissingMoney.com.

Every state has some sort of unclaimed property division; you should never have to pay someone to search or to file a claim.

While this site has many states and provinces, it doesn’t have them all included. You can find links to every state’s site here.
Valerie

Access Father’s Financial Records

I went through this when my young adult son died suddenly.

If you have access to your father’s financial records, you may find insurance policies or payments to insurance companies, trusts or other instruments such as bank or credit union accounts and mutual funds.

If not, then you can check with the treasurer of the state in which he lived for unclaimed bank accounts, with the insurance commissioner for how to find any insurance policies, etc.

Also check whether your father had a safe deposit box at any financial institution. Important and pertinent papers might be stored there.
Barbara in CT

Reviewed November 2019

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