• Mary Anne Harris

Prepare to Escheat to the State



Escheating refers to the power of the state to acquire abandoned or unclaimed property. Escheating becomes relevant in the legal profession when an attorney holds funds in a general trust account and either the funds have not cleared from a check being sent or does not know the identity or the location of the payee of the check. Before a check which is also referred to as property can be considered abandoned or unclaimed, the firm must make a diligent effort to try to locate the account owner. Please check with your local state on the actual process and procedure with the due diligence and amount that must be processed for certain dollar amounts.

If the firm is unable to locate the owner, and the account has remained inactive for the period of time specified by the state, the firm will then report the funds to the state where the funds are being held in escrow. The state then claims the funds through a process called "escheatment," where the state becomes the owner of the funds. You must be aware that some states require escheating to occur once a year or multiple times. There is a process and time that must be put into escheating properly to the state. It is important that you check with your local state department to get the actual guidelines of how long the checks must be dormant and the proper escheating procedures.

Georgia link: https://dor.georgia.gov/georgia-unclaimed-property

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