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Escheat

Procedure

Escheat statutes vary by state, but all prescribe a procedure for location of the rightful owner. In some states title to certain types of property automatically passes to the state when it escheats for lack of a proper claimant. In other states, a required period of time must elapse prior to the commencement of escheat proceedings. This does not bar a claimant from stating his or her claim before completion of the escheat proceedings. Some laws require claimants to assert their rights within a period of time or forfeit them. Often, states mandate that individuals administering estates notify the state government of the existence of property that might be subject to escheat.

The primary burden of proving that there is no proper individual entitled to own the property in question rests with the state, and the general rules regarding the admissibility of evidence are applicable. Rules of presumption, such as the common-law presumption of death after a seven-year disappearance, can be used to support the case of the state. After the state has proved a legally sufficient case, any individual claiming a right to the property has an opportunity to go forward and argue against the evidence submitted by the state.

Some states offer money to informers who notify the state of property that might be subject to escheat. Informers might be required to provide evidence and pursue the case to a conclusion before they will be entitled to a fee. Other states provide compensation for an escheater, a person appointed by the court to manage the claim of the state for escheat. An escheater is entitled to be paid a reasonable amount even if he or she does not succeed in recovering the property for the state.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Embargo to Estate pur (or per) autre vieEscheat - Dissimilarities, Property Subject To Escheat, Procedure, Further Readings