Understanding Unclaimed Property in Illinois
In the State of Illinois, unclaimed property refers to assets or funds that have been left inactive or dormant for a period, whereby the rightful owner has not initiated any activity or contact with the holding institution. Over time, these assets are turned over to the Illinois State Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Division, also known as 'I-Cash' program, which then takes on the responsibility of safeguarding the property until claimed by the rightful owner or heir.
Types of Unclaimed Property
Unclaimed property can include, but is not limited to, bank accounts, stocks, uncashed dividends, security deposits, and the contents of safe deposit boxes. It is important to note that real estate does not fall under unclaimed property in Illinois.
Claiming Property as a Family Member
When a family member passes away, their assets may become unclaimed property if left unattended. Claiming this property by surviving relatives involves a few critical steps:
- Search for Unclaimed Property: Begin by searching the Illinois State Treasurer's I-Cash database at icash.illinoistreasurer.gov. This online resource allows individuals to search for unclaimed property by entering the deceased relative’s name.
- File a Claim: Upon discovering unclaimed property, you will need to file a claim. The online system will guide you through this process and list the necessary documents required to prove your right to the property.
- Provide Documentation: To claim property on behalf of a deceased relative, you must provide documentation proving your relationship and right to the property. This typically includes a death certificate, will, trust documents, or letters of office.
- Proof of Ownership: You might also need to demonstrate the deceased’s ownership of the property with old bank statements or stock certificates.
- Affidavit for Collection: In cases where an estate was not formally administered through probate court and the total value of all property does not exceed a certain threshold (currently $100,000), an 'Affidavit for Collection' can be used to claim the property.
Once all required documents are submitted and verified, the State Treasurer’s office will process the claim and distribute the property accordingly.
The concept of unclaimed property is not new. For instance, during the late 19th century, with no electronic tracking or standardized banking regulations, it was common for assets to be forgotten or left unclaimed after death. The modern system of unclaimed property laws evolved as a means to protect these assets and provide a method for rightful owners or heirs to claim them.
Dealing with a relative’s estate can be challenging, but understanding how to navigate Illinois's unclaimed property system can alleviate some burdens. It is advisable for individuals to periodically check the I-Cash database for potential unclaimed assets and understand the claiming process should it become necessary.