How can Texas heirs access unclaimed property?

Strong estate planning and administration reduces the chance that your property will sit unused or lost in a legal system for years. However, there are times when unclaimed property is listed by the state because someone has not properly claimed. The state of Texas offers some guidelines for heirs who are trying to reclaim such property.

First, the heir must provide a death certificate and proof of social security number for the person who is reported as the owner of the property. If property is valued over $5,000, then the death certificate must be a certified copy.

If the reported owner had a will and that will was probated, then the heir must also submit the will and either an Order Admitting Will to Probate as Muniment of Title or an Order Admitting to Probate. Closing documents must also be provided if the estate was closed.

In the absence of a will or probate, then requirement documentation depends on the value of the property. If the property is valued more than $10,000, a Small Estates Affidavit of Heirship or a Court’s Determination of Heirship are required. Both of those documents do require the signature of a judge.

If the value of the property is $5,001 to $10,000, then a notarized Affidavit of Heirship is required. The affidavit must be completed by a third-party with no interest in the case and filed in the county where the owner of the property died. An Affidavit of Heirship is also required for property valued at $5,000 or less, but the location requirement is not present.

Seeking property owed to you as an heir can be difficult, whether the property is with the state’s unclaimed property office or not. Understanding your legal rights and options can help you seek an outcome that is most satisfactory.

Source: Window on State Government, “General Claims” Jan. 02, 2015