Administering an Ohio estate can be challenging for personal representatives, and there is usually a sense of relief and satisfaction when the process is successfully completed. But what happens when an estate is closed, and it is later discovered that the state of Ohio was holding unclaimed funds for the deceased? Does the estate need to be reopened?
Historically, the answer to that question has been yes, resulting in additional paperwork, effort and expense, sometimes to recover only a relatively small amount of money. Fortunately, House Bill 270, which was passed unanimously by the Ohio House, may change all that, making the process of reclaiming previously unclaimed funds on behalf of an estate much more straightforward.
The bill, which makes multiple changes to the Unclaimed Funds Act of Ohio, creates a procedure that streamlines the process for small or closed estates to claim funds that belonged to a decedent and which lay unclaimed with the state. The proposed Ohio Revised Code 169.052 is expected to pass the Senate without difficulty or significant amendment.
This is a welcome development. In the past, if a small or closed estate needed to claim unclaimed funds, the following needed to happen:
The procedure introduced by House Bill 270 is designed to eliminate these burdensome requirements. With this small or closed estate affidavit procedure, a decedent’s next-of-kin or heirs may claim unclaimed funds directly from the state without the need to reopen probate and obtain letters of administration or letters testamentary.
The Director of the Ohio Department of Commerce will distribute funds to a person requesting them under the following conditions:
The claimant must furnish all of the following in order to have the funds released to them:
If a claimant provides all necessary documentation and an affidavit that complies with all legal requirements, the Director will be released from responsibility for the funds once they are released. This release is the same as that which would occur if the Director distributed the funds to the duly-appointed executor, administrator, or commissioner of a decedent’s open estate.
In addition to the streamlined process to claim unclaimed funds on behalf of a decedent’s estate, the Act makes other revisions to the law of unclaimed funds, including addressing virtual currency such as Bitcoin as unclaimed funds.
If you have questions about how to claim a deceased person’s unclaimed property for their estate, contact an experienced Ohio probate attorney.