How to Use an Heir Finder to Locate Unclaimed Property
Across the nation, state departments of revenue hold billions of dollars in unclaimed property. Insurance companies also hold death benefits in cases where heirs cannot be located. An heir finder works to reunite this property with those who rightfully have a claim to it.
Unfortunately, where there is money, scammers soon follow. Many people have reported receiving telephone calls from heir finder services requiring upfront payment to determine whether the person is entitled to receive unclaimed property.
To work with a legitimate heir finder and protect yourself from scammers, take the following steps.
5 Steps to Use an Heir Finder to Locate Unclaimed Property
1. If you receive a call from an asset or heir finder, make sure you speak with a person.
Never send money in response to an automated message that claims to locate unclaimed property on your behalf.
2. To avoid unclaimed property scams, never send upfront payment.
A legitimate heir finder will only charge you once you receive your unclaimed property.
3. Do a free search on the DOR website in your state to see if you have unclaimed property.
You can search several state databases at once for free by going to www.missingmoney.com. Not all states participate, so if you suspect you may have unclaimed assets in these states, you will need to search these databases individually.
4. Determine whether you need the services of an heir finder.
While most people can easily locate unclaimed assets on their own, there is a place for legitimate asset and heir finders. If you suspect you may be the beneficiary of an estate or life insurance policy, but you’re not sure who the insurance company was or in what state the assets are held, you may choose to work with an asset finder to locate unclaimed property.
In some cases, if there is no probate of an estate or beneficiaries cannot be located, insurance companies won’t pay on the policy. Asset finders often query multiple insurance companies to locate death benefits and prompt the insurance companies to pay the deceased person’s heirs.
5. Make sure you know ahead of time what the asset finder’s fee will be.
Most states cap an heir finder’s fees at a certain percentage of the value of the unclaimed property located. The cap typically ranges from 5 to 10%.