Friday, February 23, 2018

You May be Owed Millions of Dollars

All right, we acknowledge that our title is more than a little click-baity, but today's blog does provide you with the tools to discover whether the State of Michigan is holding money, though probably not millions of dollars, in trust for your benefit. 

The State of Michigan, and every other State, operates a Department for tracking and maintaining Unclaimed Property. Unclaimed Property is any property that legally belongs to a known person, but the person (or company) currently in control of the property cannot locate the proper owner. This situation arises in the context of estate planning when it is impossible to locate the beneficiary of a Trust or Will, but more commonly arises when a person is entitled to a refund or proceeds from insurance policy and they cannot be located.
The process for locating and claiming Unclaimed Property is easy and rarely necessitates an attorney's involvement. The Michigan Department of Treasury maintains an Unclaimed Property website, there you can search for Unclaimed Property by last name or business name. If potential unclaimed property is located, a one-page form is all that a person needs to complete in order to initiate the process of claiming the property. Personal Representatives and Trustees may use the same website to locate property belonging to recently deceased relatives, which those representatives can then claim for the decedent’s family.
While the value of unclaimed property is generally not exorbitant, we have assisted multiple clients in making claims for abandoned insurance policies, bank accounts, and company stock that resulted in surprising windfalls for the beneficiaries. The simplicity of making a claim for Unclaimed Property means that doing so has almost no downside. The alternative to locating property that the state of Michigan is holding in for your benefit is the property will escheat to the state of Michigan, usually in three years.
We recommend that our clients take the time to search for unclaimed property approximately every year, because there are some assets, including unclaimed wages, which the State only holds for a single year. This search can be part of an annual checkup of estate planning where clients review their existing estate planning and consider whether any changes are needed to that plan based upon events that occurred in the previous year. Take a few minutes before the weekend to see if you have an unexpected windfall waiting for you.

Matt and Al

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