Skip to main content

Parents deceased 5 years, assets 200K+,was a will, probate closed, paid to 4 of us. Now found old asset 180K now what? In Cali.

Los Angeles, CA |

Do we, I was executor - oldest son - have to open probate again? It is a combination of annuities and stocks found on state controllers website. Company says it can process for us for 10%. They found my sister. She told me. State website sounds confusing to do. Worth the fee?

Court did all notices etc. but we did not know about this money. There were 4 beneficiaries, 4 adult kids including me. The company that wants fee says they have found 9 living relatives, including us, that would benefit. I guess the assets are real but we the siblings going to have to split the money with the 9 "living relatives." ? Even though our parents left everything to us.

Does "lost" money as they say go to all known living relatives or just follow the original will. Like my cousin getting some?

Attorney Answers 5

Posted

Unless the account located (supposedly) had some unusual form of co-ownership, the Order that you previously received after a full probate would be valid.

Pull order - it likely has % division of after discovered property, such as this.

You would likely not need to open a probate just for this.

The service that "discovered" the account, likely is clueless on the Order/Probate. You should contact them to discuss - likely non-issue (if there is an account).

But first - check controllers sites first yourself - maybe you can locate the account (s), no percentage fee! Did you pay this service already? You can check yourself.

I handled a probate in which there were $0 assets .. just claimed accounts at the Controller's Office (CA) which I recovered for the client - ZERO fee to outside service (just probate/attorney fees).

Decent amount of money at stake - don't sign a contract my recommendation, first do research/hire local attorney.

Mark as helpful

1 found this helpful

8 lawyers agree

3 comments

Asker

Posted

Wow, thanks for the info. I did check the site and yes, there is a string of accounts. State info matches old parent address - nursing home, etc. Reviewed the "state" instructions and seems confusing. If over 60K, must do this and that, etc... Did not pay the company anything. Says they get money from state once we get our money. Should we pay them something for letting us know about it? And are we going to have to hire an attorney like you anyway? Thanks

L Christopher Arvin

L Christopher Arvin

Posted

Its up to you whether you hire an attorney. If the order provides for final distribution/final order, service seems clueless who owns the account - sounds like they did not review the court record. The controller's office takes MONTHS to get to each file. If you handle it - follow the instructions carefully, submit certified death certificates, certified court order, copies of any statement you may have (none?) perhaps copies of statement with the same name as state has "recovered" accounts. Everything you send to Conroller - should be certified mail/return receipt. With budget cuts - the process does take 6+ months to get first contact from the Controller - be patient. I called Controller few times, think I may have gotten further because I am an attorney. Pay the service for telling you? Well if you did not contract for them - I don't see why personally - other's here can give their input. If anything - they are very "annoying" saying that there are other beneficiairies when you say you have final court order of distribution - why give them a dime??

Asker

Posted

First, found your website. Very professional. Second, final order with just us 4 is is in order, etc. I think their letter did not realize that probate happened maybe? They seem to think we are just heirs they found due based on our and our cousins relation to fathers accounts sent to state. ? Some kind of geneolgy ( sp ) thing they must have done. It is one page contract on controller letterhead stating 10% to them later once paid. Anyway, I have found some looking for 35% for this - google. The accounts on state website look legit, just trying to find out best way to proceed. Also, thanks for advice in comment but I would not try this without some professional help in sending in the proper docs. I am sure the state is in no hurry to give the money up... Maybe that is why the list of things to send for a "claim" seems overwhelming. I am in Atlanta, Ga. on business till the first of Feb. but will be back in L.A. then. I will also send you an email on your website once I get back in town. I'm in Atlanta, GA. till the first of Feb. Again, I know your time is of value and appreciate it. Andrew

Posted

As indicated previously, the final orders issued in your parents' respective estates, should provide for the division of any later discovered property, and unless the Will(s) provided for the distribution of these specific assets (but they were missing at the time of the probate proceedings), the later discovered assets are part of the "residue" of the estate and the papers that you have should provide for how the assets should be divided.

That being said, some of the assets that are in the custody of the State Controller may have specific beneficiaries designated, and those designations could be controlling.

I would suggest that you check the State Controller's site (a link is included below) to see what you can find out. It would be a shame to pay the $18,000 to a service (that you don't have any experience with) if you could do it alone or with just a bit of aide from a local attorney.

There are many probate attorneys in Los Angeles that provide fee or low cost 30-60 minute consultations. So, if you don't already have an attorney, I would suggest that you (i) try to find the relevant assets on the State Controller's website, (ii) print out the pages that contain information about any assets that you find, and (iii) take those pages along with the order of final distribution you received at the end of your mother and father's probate, to a consultation with an experienced probate attorney in your area.

Good luck!

Any answer or other information posted above is general in nature and is not intended, nor should it be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the posting attorney, and you are urged to engage a qualified attorney who is licensed to practice in the relevant jurisdiction.

Mark as helpful

1 found this helpful

11 lawyers agree

2 comments

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your insight. I do appreciate that and yes, the accounts do show up on the state website. I had previously found them but letting others know is a real service.

Molly Cristin Hansen

Molly Cristin Hansen

Posted

It's great that you were able to find them. All the best to you and your siblings.

Posted

I've had some experience myself dealing with the Comptroller's office in Sacramento to release escheated property. It isn't easy, although at first it may appear as much. You are going to have to provide all of the back-up for the accounts (you're going to have to get that from the brokerage firm), a certified death certificate and most likely certified documents from the court where the estate was originally probated. The process from filing to a decision is 180 days. And you may have to go through that process at least twice.

These search firms that "find" unclaimed property are no substitute for good counsel, which will actually be cheaper and more apt to get the paperwork done right the first time.

For those looking for such funds for others, the link for each state's unclaimed property website may be found at www.naupa.org.

The foregoing is not legal advice nor is it in any manner whatsoever meant to create or impute an attorney/client relationship.

Mark as helpful

1 found this helpful

8 lawyers agree

2 comments

Asker

Posted

Yes, after a couple of days researching the state "process" on their website I see we might get it eventually... Also, thank you for your comment. My guess is that the state will try NOT to pay, if they can. Yes, the accounts on the website do appear to be our Dad's, but we have no documentation to prove that HE owned the annuities, stocks, bonds, etc. listed there. That is why we are considering professional help. From the company that sent us the letter or attorneys, etc. We have all the probate documents but since we did not know about these accounts "e-sent" to the state after time, we don't have any documents, other than his name, addresses, social security number, etc., to prove to the state they are his? That is the confusion. Are they going to dismiss our claim without the annuity statements, stocks etc. ?? Even though, they are obviously his. The state website says to submit "original documents", sounds like their way not to pay. Again thanks for your time...

Robert V Cornish Jr.

Robert V Cornish Jr.

Posted

The CA Comptroller's website should show the brokerage firm where the stock came from if the holdings were indeed in an account. You can start there if that's disclosed. If not, you'll likely have to check with the transfer agents for the stock or bonds and the insurance company that issued the annuities. They will ask for some proof of ownership of some kind to pay the funds out. Well worth it to work with an attorney on this.

Posted

Most orders closing probates have a catchall phrase that permits the executor the power to find and distribute any after-acquired property. You may need to have a certified copy of letters testamentary re-issued. With the Letters, you should be able to apply for the funds, via the state controller's website. If you find it confusing, then use an attorney, who, at an hourly rate, will be able to wend his or her way through the thicket at a cheaper price than the company who contacted your sister.

Mark as helpful

8 lawyers agree

Posted

I agree with everything that other counsel have said. An attorney should be able to help you (the four beneficiaires) collect this money without having to reopen probate and for much less than the 10% the company plans to charge.

The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

Mark as helpful

6 lawyers agree

Wills and estates topics

Top tips from attorneys

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics