Coffee cans, old trunks, books, drawers and anything else that a person could use to stash some cash should be gone through thoroughly before any estate sale, or disposing of property for any decedent’s or protected persons estate. Why? Because sometimes you can discover thousands of dollars in cash or valuables that even the family did not know existed.
Many years ago, I was appointed by the court as a trustee over a decedent’s testamentary trust. A testamentary trust is a trust that is created by a person’s will to the benefit of one or more beneficiaries. The estate had little money and few assets. By the time I entered the picture the house been sold but a plethora of personal property remained. The estate had placed the personal property of the decedent in storage and it was time to transfer it to the trust and figure out if any of it could be sold or if it should be given back to the family. That storage unit was a treasure chest in disguise.
The decedent’s spouse had died over 20 years before her. He had had a healthy distrust for banks. After his death his old steamer trunks sat in the garage untouched gathering dust, spiders, and cobwebs. No keys could be found for them which was probably the reason. Once the locks were drilled I discovered old coffee cans, tins and small boxes full of money rolls – mostly twenties. In the end the trust more than doubled in value from the money hidden in those two old trunks.
For whatever reason – a distrust of banks, a need to hide money from others, or just a compulsion – many of the elderly take to hiding cash around their house. There have been other estates where money was found in china cabinets, old shoe boxes, dresser drawers, and the like. So it is always a good idea to check out everything before you sell it, toss it, or give it away. You never know if Aunt Dotty or Uncle Joe liked to hide money and you could be giving away thousands without knowing.
It is tedious to go through everything, and many times people are still dealing with their own grief which makes the job that much more difficult. Hidden in the piles of seemingly worthless gadgets, suitcases, and more can be treasures which would enhance the value of the estate. Items like hand sewn or homemade quilts, limited edition figurines or books, old dolls or toys, old furniture may have more value than you realize. Not everything you find will be valuable, but you may find items for keepsakes which hold value in more than just money.
Written by June F. Bourrillion, Esq. for http://www.rkymtnlaw.com