How can we find out if Mom had assets when she died?

3 answers | Last updated: Oct 23, 2016
6105 asked...

Mother remarried in 1986. In 2006 she passed away. My current step-father says my mother did not have any money or assets when she died. How do I find out what, if anything, she might have had? My step-father claims there was a bank account (which my sister had been included.) He says he was advised to remove all but one dollar from the account. My sister asked where her dollar was and he did not respond. How should we pursue this, especially after all these years when neither one of them can remember where this account was stored????

Expert Answers

I doubt if you should pursue trying to determine what assets your mother had at her death. Even if you could remember the name of the bank where her account was, I think it is unlikely that the bank would be willing to give you her account records, at least not without some type of legal order requiring them to do so. I think it is not worth your or your sister's money to hire a lawyer to go to court to seek such an order. Further, four years is a long time time wait before trying to investigate this. If you did go to court, proceedings might be barred by the applicable statute of limitations. That time limit would be set by the law of the state where your mother died, and the type of proceeding you'd filed.

If there were a serious possibility that your mother had a large amount of money or other assets, you might consider hiring a private detective to see if he or she could determine what happened to that money/assets. But from what you've told me, it seems quite unlikely that your mother had a large amount of money or other assets. Also, even a good private detective might not be able to learn what happened to assets four years ago.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

you might want to look into the abandoned property list that is issued by your state. As far as I know, if there is no activity in the account for a certain number of days, the bank have to declare it as abandoned property and transfer to the state where it is listed as abandoned property.

Geo2015 answered...

The expert is correct, right down the line... Also, there's a chance (and I hope I'm wrong!) that your Mom's unclaimed inheritance assets may have been pocketed by your step-father... Maybe. If not him then her estate may have been chopped down to nothing by probate costs, taxes, plus cost of living increases while she was alive, possibly unexpected medical expenses or other debs as well.

Or, worse, missing estate assets or unclaimed inheritance assets or possibly a missing heir (you perhaps) accidentally left out of the will possibly because of Alzheimer's or Dementia problems your Mom may have had -- if this is not possible then I apologize... but as a consultant I've seen it all before. I saw Dementia on the part of my grandfather cause his estate to lose out on tons of money, insurance policies and bonds were lost thanks to his fading memory affecting things when he re-did his will while still alive.

Dementia or Alzheimer's causes many estates to lose out on unclaimed inheritance assets and unknown estate assets or the illness causes wills and estates to be dealt a blow losing time and money by having to locate missing heirs or beneficiaries. A lot of cash can go missing from unclaimed inheritance assets that are abandoned or lost thanks to bad memory lapses on the part of the deceased.

My research on this subject convinces me that issues like this resulting from Dementia or Alzheimer's usually call for an experienced probate research investigation team, an heir locator service or heir finder specialists that can connect legitimate heirs to unclaimed inheritance assets through probate and estate research plus effective heir search solutions and forensic genealogy -- the type of probate & estate research that can quickly locate missing heirs or locate beneficiaries to an unclaimed estate find unclaimed estate assets or unclaimed and unknown inheritance assets that should go to heirs who are unaware of their inheritance.

Unknown heirs. Missing, unclaimed inheritance. Forgotten items like leaving heirs out of a will... or forgetting assets and funds, or losing and forgetting paperwork for insurance or savings bond -- I hate to say it but this often leads back to Dementia or Alzheimer's and frequently calls for probate & estate research professionals that know a thing or two about proven heir search solutions and forensic genealogy that really works.

The best probate research firms or heir locator services can locate missing heirs and beneficiaries to unclaimed estates almost anywhere, and can usually find missing heirs or unclaimed inheritance assets as easily offshore as they can inside the USA. An unclaimed inheritance is not easy to find, and I’d say requires a top notch probate research investigation group, for example like the well known American Research Bureau team, or group, or maybe the outfit that can find missing heirs to prove "kinship determination" as well as successful inheritance recovery -- locating missing inheritance assets that have been forgotten by our loved ones that were ill with Alzheimer's or severe Dementia... If it were my family and I was a missing or unknown heir like this person here -- or my family members were expecting missing inheritance assets.... and our attorneys decided officially to locate a missing heir or to locate unclaimed inheritance assets we really needed --

I wouldn't fool around with amateur probate researchers or an amateur heir finder firm. I'd make sure we went with the best. There's just too much at stake with an unclaimed estate or missing inheritance.