Over the weekend, the New York Times published a sprawling, nearly eight thousand-word story detailing for readers the fate of those who die alone in the Big Apple.
the life and death of George Bell, who passed away some days before he
was discovered in his home this past July, the Times recounts the
painstakingly arduous process that New York City public employees embark
upon to make certain the estates of people like Bell end up in the
hands of its rightful beneficiaries.
In the case of Bell --
spoiler alert -- distant relatives and friends he had not communicated
with in many years inherited his nearly half a million dollar estate no
doubt surprised both to have been named beneficiaries in the first place
and also that Bell could have had such ample means considering his
George Bell lived an obscure life and like
thousands of other New Yorkers each year, he had no close family or
friends to help settle his estate when the time came. While Bell's
beneficiaries were eventually united with their share of his estate, an
untold number of Americans never learn that a loved one who has passed
has made arrangements for them leaving behind life insurance policies,
bank accounts, and other property.
By law, insurers and banks are
required to try and find those entitled to this "unclaimed property."
How hard these companies actually work to carry out the decedent's
wishes is debatable. If they are unable to find the beneficiaries, they
are required to turn the money over to state unclaimed property