The Law of Escheat

On September 6, 2012, In the Matter of the Real and Personal Property of Carl Bekysewycz, Docket No. A-4455-09T2, the Appellate Division examined the law of escheat.  Here is the summary:

In 1989, the New Jersey Legislature enacted the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act (UUPA), N.J.S.A. 46:30B-1 to -109, which changed the role of the State from that of a beneficiary to that of a custodian of unclaimed property of various types.  The UUPA repealed the personal property escheat statutes applicable to intestate estates without identifiable heirs.  See N.J.S.A. 46:30B-109.

Following the repeal of the escheat laws, the fate of unclaimed estate property was governed by probate law (N.J.S.A. 3B:5-5, 3B:23-19 and -20).  Specifically, N.J.S.A. 3B:5-5 provided “If there are none who may inherit an intestate estate that estate shall escheat to the State.”

On June 29, 1995, the UUPA was amended to state, “Unclaimed property held by a fiduciary of an intestate estate payable to the unknown heirs of an intestate decedent shall be presumed abandoned 90 days after publication by the fiduciary of the notice required in N.J.S. 3B:5-5.” N.J.S.A. 46:30B-37.1.

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