Where there\'s a will
Hank Investigates: Where there's a will
"Is this your name?"
"Yes it is."
Good news for Craig Polleys he's inherited more than $300!
"Did you know this money was there?
Good news for Dorothy Crocker: she's inherited almost $30,000!
"If you hadn't called us we would never have known about it."
Our investigation discovered their names and hundreds of others buried in stacks of files and backroom vaults of the Massachusetts Probate Courts every name is due money from a will!
A total of more than $6 million earning interest, just waiting for people to claim it. Just one problem...
Hank Phillippi Ryan
"Do you think people know money is waiting for them?"
Bob McCarthy, Plymouth County Register of Probate
"No they certainly all don't."
Here's why: when someone dies and leaves a will their beneficiaries aren't always located by the people handling the estate.
Stephen Abramham, Worcester County Register of Probate
"There are sometimes it simply cannot be done and those people fall through the cracks."
Craig's money was left to him and his brothers when they were kids. Dorothy's windfall came from her late husband's distant relatives in Hyannis. They were people she never knew.
"It was just something out of the clear blue sky."
But if we could find these people, why can't the courts? We found the courts are just responsible for keeping the records safe.
"Who's supposed to tell these people this money is waiting for them?"
John Buonomo/Middlesex Register of Probate
"It has not in the role of the court, to aggressively seek out those people out and say, 'we've got money for you.'"
Since they're not looking for you, the only way to claim your cash is for you to look for them. Suffolk and Middlesex officials now have lists of names on their websites.
"If people are entitled to something they should get it."
But at other courts, our investigation found you might never get what's coming to you.
In Plymouth you have to plow through computer records and then cross-reference paper files. Is your name here? How would you know?
In Norfolk they're trying to organize handwritten ledgers, stacks of old bank records and rows of files. Could your name be here? You'd have to go through every one.
"Let me ask you, is that a good system?"
Patrick McDermott, Norfolk Register of Probate
"It's a system that definitely needs improvement."
So even where there's a will there may be no way to tell you about it. And that may leave your loved ones last request buried in bureaucracy.
As a result of our story, Plymouth court decided to release names of people due money from a will and other courts, including Norfolk, have also given us their lists of names.
Middlesex County Probate Court
John Buonomo, Register of Probate
Suffolk County Probate Court
Richard Ianella, Register of Probate
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