What happens when a personal representative cannot find any living heirs or devisees of a decedent? Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 531-33 provides a procedure for the disposition of property in this scenario.
First, the personal representative will need to file a petition to have the estate's final accounts approved. Notice will need to be published in the newspaper for a period of not less than three consecutive weeks. All claimants for a distributive share of the estate then have 90 days from the date of first publication to present a claim to their share of the estate.
If no claims are presented within the 90 days or if a portion of the estate remains unclaimed after this period, then after the court approves the settlement and accounts of the estate, the court or registrar may direct the personal representative to transfer the remainder of the property to the State Director of Finance.
The State Director of Finance is then instructed to sell any property, if possible, at public auction. The proceeds are then held pursuant to Hawaii Revised Statutes Chapter 523A, which the unclaimed property law.
According to Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 523A(15), generally speaking, property is presumed to be abandoned five years after the owner had a right to demand the property or after the obligation to pay or distribute the property arises.
Samuel K.L. Suen is an attorney based in Honolulu, Hawaii specializing in estate planning, probate, conservatorship and guardianship matters.
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