Sunday, May 12, 2013

Money Lost and Found – Show Me The Money!

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been starting to tell you that following a divorce you have many reasons to revise or create an Estate Plan.  I have glossed over the basic likely components of an Estate Plan, and once again, an Estate Plan is generally composed of a Will, a Trust, Powers of Attorney and an Advanced Healthcare Directive.  I want to take a break from the law and give you some tools to find what has been lost.

Usually a few times a year, frequently before the holidays or tax season, you hear a news story about how the government has billions of dollars that no one has claimed.  From time to time I go to a number of websites and look under the names of family and friends only to find that there is money out there that can’t find them.  Sometimes it is pennies, and other times, thousands of dollars. I found several hundred dollars of a rental deposit for my brother, but I also found several thousand dollars of stock and dividends for my wife, from her deceased father’s last long term job, because her father did not have a will.  Probate can be a long and painful process, but it only took us several months to organize and present all the birth, death, marriage and address information to verify the claim, but by the time we were done, my wife thought it was OK to be married to a lawyer sometimes.  Trying to be a good lawyer, estate planning, divorce or otherwise, I want to help people make and preserve money. 

Most recently, I saw an article online,  $58 billion unclaimed: Is some of it yours? @CNNMoney January 27, 2013, citing several links to help you find money or property help by the government.

  • State-held unclaimed property: Visit NAUPA's for a map with links to each state's program.
  • Life insurance: For benefits not held by the state, check the insurer's site directly. For example, MetLife has an online search.
  • Pensions: For Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. benefits, visit the agency's online search directory.
  • U.S. savings bonds: More than 45 million matured savings bonds, worth nearly $16 billion, remain unredeemed, according to the U.S. Department of the Treasury. To search the database, visit
  • Tax refunds: In 2011, the Internal Revenue Service said it had $153.3 million in tax refund checks that were undeliverable. To make sure you've received your checks, visit the IRS's Where's my refund? tool.

From my point of view, the moral of this story is that a good Estate Plan has everything included and nothing should be lost to you or your family.  My Estate Planning process causes my clients to review their records, dredge their memory and organize their thoughts.  Will everything always be included?  Probably not.  However, at the conclusion of a Divorce, you have a really good picture of what you have, so strike while the iron is hot.  Even so, now you have a list of some resources to Show You The Money!  I would love to hear from you that you checked out these links and were able to find some money lost to you, your family or friends.  Share your success stories.  Good luck and happy hunting.

In the days that follow, I will give you more reasons to create, review and revise your Estate Plan. However, if you are interested in learning more about an Estate Plan, Wills, Trusts, Advanced Healthcare Directives, or Divorce, Custody, Visitation, Child Support, Spousal Support, Property Division, Modifications, Remarriage, or Pre-Nuptial Agreements, and you live in Santa Clara County or thereabout, please contact me at or at my other websites, or at for Fred Begun