Do I need an attorney to recover my unclaimed property?
There is no requirement to hire an attorney or other third-party (known as a finder) to recover your funds. However, there are significant advantages to hiring us rather than attempting to apply on your own. We know the unclaimed property law as it applies to owners, heirs, and companies. We gather the necessary evidence needed to support your claim, which may include proof of address, proof of name changes, death certificates, short certificates, birth certificates, and releases from joint owners. We have access to much of this information by searching property and court records and locate the information needed so you do not have to. We then forward the evidence to the proper individual at Treasury to expedite your claim.
It is especially beneficial to hire us in the event your claim involves the following more complex issues:
- You moved since the time you originally owned the property in question, especially if you moved multiple times and may have difficulty proving that you lived at an old address.
- You have multiple properties from multiple addresses.
- The original owner is deceased and you are claiming as an heir or as the executor of the estate.
- Your claim is for a UGMA (Uniform Gifts to Minors Act) account, UTMA (Uniform Transfers to Minors Act) account, or other custodial account that was set up for you prior to turning 21, and you are now over 21.
- There is a joint owner that is either estranged from you somehow, deceased, or a third party, like an insurance company or auto repair shop.
- The claim involves a trust, and you are either the trustee or the beneficiary.
- The owner is a company and there has been a change in ownership since the time the property was escheated to Treasury.
- You are acting as a POA (Power of Attorney) for an incompetent or disabled owner of the funds.
- You attempted to apply on your own and was denied.
How long does it take to process my claim?
Depending on the type of claim, it can take anywhere from 2 to 4 months between the time you submit the claim forms to us and the time you get paid. This is due to a chronic backlog of claims at Pennsylvania Treasury and due to changes in the unclaimed property reporting law which dramatically increased the number of claims they received. We are usually able to reduce the wait times by about 3 weeks by using our service versus trying to claim the funds on your own.
What do I need to do to file my claim?
You should have received detailed instructions in your claim packet. Generally, you would need to sign and return our recovery agreement, which is the agreement between you and Lavanga Law LLC to recover the property from Treasury, our fee agreement which is your agreement to pay our fee after (and only after) you are paid by Treasury, and then the owner claim form, which would be your representation to Treasury that you were the original owner of the property. If you are applying as an heir or the executor/administrator of an estate, additional claim paperwork will be needed that will be included in your packet.
What is your fee, how do I pay, and when do I pay?
Our fee is 10% of the recovered amount for owner and company claims, and 12% for claims involving an estate or an heir. This is less than was is allowed by law, and less than our competitors, who are normally non-attorney third party finders. You can pay by check, money order, or credit card through this website. Treasury will pay you directly for your claim. Payment is then due within 30 days of your receipt of payment from Treasury. In the event that Treasury does not pay your claim, you owe us nothing.
Treasury denied my claim. What can I do next?
One additional advantage that you have by hiring us is that we typically can easily determine why Treasury denied your claim and can determine if this denial is justified or not. Usually Treasury will deny your claim because they are not convinced you are the true owner. In the event that the claim is denied due to lack of evidence that you are entitled to the claim, we can appeal the determination back to Treasury. In the unlikely event that you are still denied the claim, or if the claim is denied due to another party making a claim to the same funds, we can decide to take additional legal action. This would be outside of our normal fee agreement and will be discussed on a case-by-case basis.
I am an heir of the unclaimed property and the person whose name it is in passed away a long time ago. What can I do?
Another additional advantage that you have by hiring us is that we can work through the probate process and figure out if you are entitled to claim as an heir and if so, how to go about it. There is a different procedure if the person died with or without a will, and if no estate was ever opened, we may need to open one up. If the executor or administrator of the estate is also now deceased we can help to substitute a new executor or administrator so that the claim can continue. This would be an additional fee, but worth it if there is a substantial amount to be claimed.