Kiritsis & Associates


What is an escheat?  Kiritsis Law Group 212 922 0005

May 13, 2021

By: John Kiritsis, Esq., CPA, MBA, MS, JD, LL.M

Generally, it refers to situations where an individual dies without a will and his property reverts back to state. The word “escheat” can trace its origins to the Latin term “ex-cadere” which translates to fall-out. Although, escheat is a common law doctrine, some jurisdictions have partially or completely codified it. It underscores the important public policy of the government’s and society’s desire to avoid disputes and/or controversies to land and real property. The concept of escheat reinforces several principles that are commonly found in U.S. property Law. If a dead person did not make the time and care to express his intentions of how his assets will be distributed upon death, then the state will usually make the decision for the dead person. Also, it is thought of (makes sense) that all land ultimately belongs to the government. A quick mental visualization, gives rise to the inference, that at some point, there will be either no heirs and/or no one will be able to inherit. Generally, courts that deal with a dead man’s assets (with or without a will), are likely to rely heavily on state statutes.


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