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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: June 17, 2019 10:18 AM
From: Representative Joe Ciresi
To: All House members
Subject: Simplifying Unclaimed Property for Heirs
Millions of properties totaling over $3.4 billion are currently sitting in the PA Treasury as unclaimed property. However, because of an inconsistency within Pennsylvania’s probate law, many categories of relatives have a harder time legitimately claiming unclaimed property on behalf of their deceased relatives.

Current probate law specific to unclaimed property allows certain close relatives of a decedent – surviving spouse, child, parent, or sibling – to file an unclaimed property claim using a notarized sworn relationship affidavit, saving them the substantial effort and expense of having to open or re-open the decedent’s estate. However, several types of relatives – including grandchildren and other decedents, nephews/nieces, grandparents, and aunts/uncles – are left out of this section of the law and cannot claim by affidavit, even if they are the closest surviving relative.

My legislation would change Pennsylvania’s law for claiming unclaimed property to match the existing intestate succession law, making it easier for grandchildren and other relatives to claim money held by their deceased relatives. This would only apply to situations where an affidavit can already be used to claim: for properties under $11,000 and when no estate was ever opened or five years have passed since it was opened.

For too many unclaimed properties, their dollar value may be too low for a constituent to feel it’s worthwhile to reopen an estate – or open one in the first place if one never existed – especially if the original owner passed away a long time ago. And in cases where a grandchild or niece/nephew may be the closest surviving relative, this means the property may never be claimed and the money will never be returned to its rightful owners. As time passes and closest relatives continue to pass away, this problem will only get worse.

This legislation also includes and strengthens safeguards to ensure that only relations with the strongest claim would be eligible under this method. The Pennsylvania Treasury Department was involved in the drafting of this legislation.

Please join me in making it easier for Pennsylvanians to claim what’s rightfully theirs by eliminating this inconsistency in our inheritance law.

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Introduced as HB1724