The state has my father's property and I can't collect it: Help Me, WalletPop!

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Q. My husband found out that there are unclaimed funds from his father with the state of New York (actually it is two shares of stock). We have provided the state with death certificates, birth certificates, etc. He is the only child but they want something that is not of public record from the 1960's that states he lived at the address when he purchased the stock. Would you have any suggestions?
-- Lori McNab, Windham, New York

A. Hi Lori, I know this process can be confusing. I asked Vanessa CP Lockel, deputy press secretary for New York's Office of the State Comptroller, to look into your case. She said that what they need from your husband is a security refund request form, which should have been sent to him after he initiated the request for this lost property. That form basically allows him to request that the shares of stock be turned over to him. Lockel says the office mailed it out, but if he didn't receive it, he can download it from this website.

Lockel says New York's Office of the State Comptroller generally requires a few different forms in order to collect unclaimed property as part of an estate claim. Administrators, executors or personal representatives need to submit a copy of the property owner's death certificate and proof of the diseased owner's connection to the address or ownership of the item being claimed (a mortgage statement or phone bill will suffice). You'll also need to provide a current copy – dated within the last six months – of your Letters of Authority, which is issued by the probate court and certifies your appointment as executor of the estate.

If there isn't a court-appointed executor, you can qualify to receive the unclaimed property as a blood relative. To do that, you need to complete two forms – the Small Estates Affidavit and the Table of Heirs, both found here -- and provide a copy of the owner's death certificate, proof of your relationship to the owner (a birth certificate, marriage license, or even an obituary notice) and proof of the owner's connection to the address or ownership of the property.

New York allows you to search for unclaimed property in a few easy steps on the Office of Unclaimed Funds website. Nationwide, you can do a search on, which is a database of unclaimed property records from most states.

Consumer Ally problem solver Jean Chatzky is the "Today Show" financial adviser, a longtime financial journalist and best-selling author.
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