Ciresi legislation to simplify unclaimed property claims for heirs passes House

HARRISBURG, May 2 – The House yesterday passed state Rep. Joe Ciresi’s red-tape cutting legislation that would make it easier for relatives to claim a deceased person’s property being held by the state.

According to Ciresi, the Pennsylvania treasury holds some $4 billion in unclaimed property, such as uncashed checks, lost stocks or bonds, or closed bank accounts. Due to an inconsistency in inheritance law, some categories of relatives have a harder time legitimately claiming that property on behalf of their deceased relatives. Under current law, surviving spouses, children, parents and siblings can file for unclaimed property using a notarized sworn relationship affidavit, saving them the effort and expense of having to open or re-open the deceased’s estate.  But grandchildren, nephews, nieces and others cannot claim by affidavit even if they are the closest surviving relative.

“My legislation would change Pennsylvania’s law for claiming unclaimed property to match the existing intestate succession law, making it easier for grandchildren and other relatives to claim money held in the name of their deceased relatives,” Ciresi, D-Montgomery, said “This would only apply to situations where an affidavit can already be used to claim: for properties under $11,000 and when no estate was ever opened or five years have passed since it was opened.”

Ciresi learned about this issue from the work his staff was doing trying to help constituents get their money.  His office discovered that the process of claiming unclaimed property as an heir can be complicated, expensive, and burdensome, causing many constituents to give up, particularly in the case of smaller amount claims.

“My legislation would cut through the red tape and simplify the process of claiming unclaimed funds, helping many of our constituents get what’s rightfully theirs,” Ciresi said. 

The legislation, which has bipartisan co-sponsors, has safeguards to ensure that only relatives with the strongest claim would be eligible. 

According to Ciresi, his H.B. 115 is supported by the PA Treasury and the Register of Wills and Clerk of Orphans Court Association.

The bill is now on to the Senate for consideration.