When I was in college, I opened up a checking account at Barnett Bank (which is now known as Wachovia) because (a) I got a free t-shirt and (b) my hometown bank did not have a branch in the town where I had moved.
A few years after I graduated and moved on with my life, I received a letter telling me that my account would be closed for inactivity. I called the branch and after an interrogation that would make the 911 Commission proud, the clerk finally revealed to me that my account still had about $32.00. I could not believe what I was hearing.
How on earth did I manage to avoid spending my last $32.00 in a town where Yuengling Lager flowed freely for $2.00 a pint?
In the end, I learned that my mother had deposited money in my account to make sure that I didn’t find myself completely penniless. (I love you mom!)
We would all be so lucky to receive a call like this from our old banks, utility companies, 401k managers and the like, but the reality is that when most people relocate, they don’t give a second thought to properly providing forwarding addresses.
Newsflash: The United States Postal Service will not forward your mail for all of eternity.
The point of my tale is to illustrate how simple it is to not even realize that someone or some entity might owe you money. In Florida, most banks will hold on to a bank account for 2-4 years of inactivity and will then (reluctantly) turn it over to the State where the money offiicially becomes “unclaimed property.”
The State of Florida’s Bureau of Unclaimed Property is a veritable gold mine for the absent minded.
If you’re a current or former resident of Florida, check out the Florida Treasure Hunt site. You might have $32.00 coming your way!
What does this have to do with probate?
Many of the unclaimed monies are owed to people who are deceased. The rightful heirs of those deceased can claim this money provided they can furnish authorization from a probate court to withdraw those funds.
So if mom was just as forgetful as you are, go on your treasure hunt and find out what the bureau will require to release the funds. Chances are, you will need to probate the estate either in Florida or in the State she last resided.
What are you waiting for? Go digging!
(just in case you find something, bookmark this page by hitting ctrl+D)