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Reclaiming unclaimed funds no cakewalk

Dear Dr. Don,
Regarding your recent article about finding lost bank accounts: Recently, I contacted the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania regarding over $4,000 I found held in my grandmother's name (she's been dead 25 years). Beware, I had to jump through hoops to get it (I still don't have it). I had to petition the Orphans' Court and open an estate. So far it has taken about a year! So it's not that easy.
-- Dale Discover

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Dear Dale,
In a recent column on finding a childhood bank account I said, "The states, for the most part, have done a great job of making this as consumer friendly as possible." I've been taken to task by a couple of readers about this statement. What I meant by my comment was that it's easy to search for accounts on the various state unclaimed property Web sites, not that the steps you'll have to take to get the money released by the state will be a piece of cake.

Establishing your rights to your deceased grandmother's unclaimed property is quite a different matter from Linda Lost trying to locate her old passbook savings account. Your grandmother's estate passed to her heirs either by will, or under her state's intestate laws if she didn't have a will. Documenting your claim to her estate was bound to take some effort.

Readers should take Dale's story as a reminder to write down a listing of bank and brokerage accounts, life insurance policies and where a copy of the will is kept so your loved ones don't have to try to reconstruct your finances once you're gone. My 2005 top 10 list advised you to keep a little green book. Did you do it?

Bankrate.com's corrections policy-- Posted: Nov. 8, 2005
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