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When the State can get your stuff

Trust Prescott Tax and Paralegal, your paralegal experts in Prescott, to guide you through estate planning and help protect your assets You may have heard the myth that the State will get your stuff if you don’t have a Will.

In reality, whether or not you have a Will has little to do with when the State obtains property. Prescott Tax and Paralegal wants our Prescott clients to know what to do to protect your assets.

You may be surprised to know that you can be very much alive and the State can get your property. Arizona adopted the Unclaimed Property Act, found in A.R.S. § 44-301 through 339. The Act specifies time limits for determining when property has been “abandoned” by the owner. These time limits vary from one year to 15 years.  Three years is the most common.

For example, a money order which is not cashed within three years is presumed abandoned. The issuer of the money order then files a report with the State claiming that the property is abandoned. The abandoned property is turned over to the State.  The State must publish a list of abandoned property, and give the rightful owner roughly three years to claim the property. After three years, the State may sell the property and the prior owner can no longer redeem it.

Are you curious if you have abandoned property?  There are two good online sources where you can check:

  • (the official search site) and
  • (a resource for questions).

When doing a search, start with your last name and your state. You can then refine that search by using your last name and first initial, and finally your last name and complete first name. If you locate property belonging to you, you can click a link to obtain the form to claim your property.
To avoid the possibility of the State becoming the owner of your property, consult with an estate planning professional to make sure your assets are protected. Prescott Tax and Paralegal has years of experience preparing estate plans in Prescott, and can help prepare the proper documentation for you and your family. To schedule a consultation, call 928-778-3113.



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Please Note: We are NOT attorneys and do NOT provide legal advice. Your information is confidential, but we do not have attorney-client privilege. If you need legal advice, you will be referred to an attorney.

Arlene Rheinfelder, EA, CP AZCLDP

"I help solve people's problems. There is nothing more rewarding than helping someone through a difficult situation, and helping them to find a good resolution." 


Melissa Hill, AZCLDP

I love the challenge of finding a way to help each person's unique situation. It is never the same because each person is different with their own needs and wants.

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