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Irwin Law
Irwin Law, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 6851
Experience:  30+ yrs. handling probate estate, wills, trust, inheritance & real estate related matters
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We were contacted by a firm that finds unclaimed assets. The

Customer Question

We were contacted by a firm that finds unclaimed assets. The fee agreement we executed was for the "Estates of Mary Van Vleck and Clinton Van Vleck". The funds were CD's placed with the State of Wyoming Unclaimed Property Division. Initially the first claim was for 'jointly' held funds. Mary had funds of her own solely in her name that were dispersed to us separately because Wyoming felt the agreement only covered 'jointly held' assets. The asset recovery company is claiming we owe them a fee for also the assets held solely by Mary. We feel that is outside of the fee agreement. They are demanding their fee be paid. Are they covered because they used "Estates of"?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Irwin Law replied 11 months ago.

A great deal depends upon the exact wording of the hiring contract with the Finder. If it was based upon locating assets, and you didn't know that any of the accounts existed before they contacted you, then their agreement might be broad enough to cover everything that was held by the State of Wyoming. In other words, it might not be limited to just the jointly held funds. You mentioned "the first claim" which indicates that there was more than one claim filed. Contracts like the one you sign are strictly construed by courts, which means they will pretty much go by the letter of the contract however it reads. The words "estate of" generally means any property held in the name of the deceased person individually, whereas jointly held proaccess to the actual agreement. Nor do I know how much money is involved, because usually the Finder companies are moreperty would not be part of that person's estate. I don't know if this helps or not, because I do not have the actual agreement to read. Finders often are willing to negotiate when issues are not clear, and a court could easily rule against them. I am leaving tonight on a 10 day vacation, so I might not be able to respond to follow-up questions until about the 27th of this month. If you can wait that long For a consultation, I can offer you a telephone conference when I return. Just reply to me on the same thread. By the way, I have a client who I worked closely with in the same business.

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