Heir Hunters for Hire
Heir hunters are companies who claim to locate the heirs of deceased persons who may have left unclaimed property. Such companies often send letters at random to persons with similar names. If you recieve such a letter, even if you are the heir, keep in mind that debts of the deceased may have depleted the estate, or the assets of the estate may have already been claimed, and the court probate process completed.
Since many of these firms only solicit out of state persons, it is often almost impossible for state agencies to bring appropriate action. Legitimate heir hunters almost never charge upfront fees for their services but rely solely on a percentage of the recovery. We take no position as to
whether consumers should hire heir hunters who seek large percentages of recoveries, but warn against those seeking upfront fees.
Since this is an interstate matter, you might want to check further with the Federal Trade Commission or the U.S. Postal Inspector. You may write to:
Federal Trade Commission
Public Reference Branch
Washington, D.C. 20580
U.S. Chief Postal Inspector
United States Post Office
Washington, D.C. 20260-2100
In California, unclaimed estate's assets are transferred to be held by the State. Information on unclaimed funds is available from:
Office of the Controller
Division of Unclaimed Property
300 Capitol Mall, 8th Floor
Sacramento, CA 95814
We hope this information is useful in determining your consumer decision.