New York Estate Litigation Attorney Kimberly Schechter recently provided legal insight in an ABC News story about an elderly Brooklyn, New York couple who found about $100,000 in a safe deposit box at a bank. Ms. Schechter—who is a lawyer at our firm, Novick & Associates, PC—clarified what types of important factors and estate issues could come into play in a situation like this.
The ABC News article, which was published on April 12, outlined the story of how the money was discovered. Joe Valinoti, age 82, and Kathleen Ricigliano, age 81, went to Sovereign Bank in February after opening a safe deposit box account. Mr. Valinoti had wanted to store documents concerning his future funeral arrangements, which he was leaving for his daughter for one day when she might eventually need them, according to the article. Once the couple was left alone in a room with their bank safe deposit box, Ms. Ricigliano reached into the box and discovered stacks of $100 bills, which the couple estimated to amount to about $100,000. The couple alerted a manager at the bank, who told them they were very honest people and then took the box.
As outlined in the ABC News story, the couple wanted to obtain proof that they had returned all the money (for the benefit of the rightful owner) and asked for a receipt or some form of documentation. The manager told them that this could not be done because the issue needed to go to the "higher-ups."
New York laws states that personal property that is found must be turned over to the police. When the property is not claimed for a year, the lost property could end up belonging to the person who found it. There are, however, different requirements for property that is found in bank safe deposit boxes. A Sovereign Bank spokeswoman noted in the article that the bank is serving as a custodian of the property and is attempting to reach the legitimate owner of the money. She also noted that a failure to locate the owner would result in the bank following the state's abandoned property statutes.
In the article, Attorney Schechter named the factors that would influence what would happen to the money. These factors included who owned the box and whether that individual is still living. If the rightful owner is no longer living, the cash could become part of that person's estate. An estate is a person's property that he or she leaves behind after death. Estates are usually inherited by family members and others who are designated in the individual's will. According to the recommendation of Novick & Associates, PC, the state of New York's Office of Unclaimed Funds is a valuable resource for individuals who believe they might have lost property.
Attorney Schechter focuses her legal practice on trust and estate litigation and on probate. She has been admitted to practice law in the state of New York, as well as in the U.S. District Court in the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York. The attorney, who is a former television producer for various major news networks, received her Juris Doctorate in 2006 from Hofstra University School of Law. She is a member of the multiple professional organizations, including the Nassau County Women's Bar Association, the Nassau County Bar Association, the Suffolk County Bar Association, the New York Bar Association and the American Bar Association.
Clients throughout New York can turn to Novick & Associates, PC for various types of legal matters concerning wills, trusts and estate litigation. Contact us to learn more about our attorneys and the services they provide!