DEFINITION of 'Escheat'

The transfer of title of property or an estate to the state when an individual dies without a will and legal heirs. Escheat ensures that property always has a recognized owner, which would be the state or government if no other claimants to ownership exist. Most jurisdictions have their own laws and regulations defining escheat and the circumstances under which it can be invoked. Escheat is usually done on a revocable basis, which means that ownership of the estate or property would revert to a rightful heir should one turn up.


In some jurisdictions, escheat also refers to the title transfer of financial assets such as bank deposits and unclaimed securities in accounts that have been dormant for a very long period of time to a state authority. Institutions with such dormant accounts are required to make efforts - such as sending reminders and issuing notices in publications - to locate the owners of these assets before transferring title to the state under escheat. Some jurisdictions maintain online registries of dormant assets such as bank deposits, which enables their rightful owners to reclaim them since escheat is revocable in most cases.

  1. Estate Planning

    The collection of preparation tasks that serve to manage an individual's ...
  2. Heir

    HeirA person who inherits some or all of the estate of another ...
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  4. Inheritance

    All or part of a person's estate/assets that is given to an heir ...
  5. Estate

    All of the valuable things an individual owns, such as real estate, ...
  6. Will

    A legally enforceable declaration of how a person wishes his ...
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  1. How much money does Texas make from unclaimed property each year?

    In 2014, the office of the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts reported $234 million in unclaimed property claimant liabilities, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How much money does Michigan make from unclaimed property each year?

    According to the 2013-2014 Annual Report of the State Treasurer, the state of Michigan earned only $82,875 in abandoned and ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What causes a stock account to be escheated?

    Your state government may be able to escheat your stock account or another financial asset if the account or asset is deemed ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How much money does California make from unclaimed property each year?

    The state of California has estimated that its general fund will earn $442 million from various unclaimed properties. As ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Are shares of stock escheatable?

    Some investors are surprised to learn financial assets such as shares of stock can be escheated, or seized by the state. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Are stock accounts escheatable?

    Many states consider stock accounts to be escheatable property. After stock accounts have posted no activity, typically at ... Read Full Answer >>
  7. Are gift cards escheatable?

    Gift cards are subject to escheat laws in most states, where after a certain period of time, unclaimed cards are transferred ... Read Full Answer >>
  8. Are bank accounts escheatable?

    If banks are unable to contact account owners at their last known addresses, or receive no response, by law, the accounts ... Read Full Answer >>

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