Escheat refers to the legal process by which a deceased person's property or Assets are transferred to the state when a they die without leaving a valid will and has no identifiable Heirs or Beneficiaries.
In other words, when a person dies without any Surviving Family members, Next of Kin, or other individuals who are entitled to Inherit their property, that property "escheats" to the state based on up its Laws of Escheat.
Key points about escheat include:
Absence of Heirs: Escheat occurs when a deceased person's property cannot be distributed to any living relatives or beneficiaries because none can be identified or located.
State Ownership: When property escheats, it becomes the property of the state or government in accordance with the laws of escheat in that jurisdiction.
Unclaimed Property: Escheat can also apply to unclaimed financial assets, such as bank accounts, stocks, and insurance policies. If the rightful owners cannot be located, these assets may also escheat to the state.
Public Benefit: The rationale behind escheat is to prevent property from becoming abandoned or unused, and to ensure that it benefits the public rather than lying dormant.
Efforts to Identify Heirs: Before escheat occurs, authorities usually make reasonable efforts to locate any potential heirs or beneficiaries. This may involve searching public records, publishing notices, and utilizing other means to identify relatives.
Escheat laws and regulations vary from state to state, so the specifics of the process will differ based on where the deceased person lived.
Creating a valid Last Will and Testament is important to avoid the possibility of escheat and to ensure that property is distributed according to rightful beneficiaries. Consulting with an Estate Attorney can ensure this is done properly.