Trusted Recovery Group (asset recovery company). Need answer fairly quickly

My mom and stepfather had an IRA (or IRAs) with Franklin Templeton Investments. I tried to recover them, but they said the Trust wasn’t named as a beneficiary and it would have to go through probate. Since I haven’t a clue how to do that, the funds have just been sitting there. I just got a call from a company called Trusted Recovery Group. They said that the funds are with the State of California, so I assume that Franklin Templeton Investments turned the funds over to the state. Trusted Recovery Group says that they can attempt to get the funds for my sister and me, for a 10% fee. I asked if it would only be 10%, or if it would be more. I was told it would be only 10%.

First question: Should I trust them? I can’t find any reviews online; only their website. The New Mexico Secretary of State has an avtive business license, in good standing.

Second question: (I could probably ask them this myself.) Would they write me a check for the entire amount? My sister is on disability and can’t have any money. If I were sent the entire amount, I would have to pay taxes on it. I could put her half into one of my own bank accounts to which she has access.

This is a bit off the top of my head, but: if the funds were turned over from the investment company to the state, it would be for some reason such as that they had been unclaimed for a long time and the company was not able to reach the owners.

If that is the case, you probably don’t need the help of such a company. I would communicate with the state office responsible for this kind of unclaimed property, explain the circumstances (deceased owners, you are the executor or an heir) and see what they say. You should be able to search for their names at this page: Search for Unclaimed Property. Even if you need the help of someone, I would take this step first.

Edited to add: if the funds are part of the inheritance, you don’t have to worry about federal taxes (at least) until your total inheritance reaches a large amount, which I don’t know, it used to be $500K but it might be higher now. If you are the financial caretaker of your sister, and you divide the funds into two parts, yours and hers, a CPA should be able to help you do that without tax liability, or for the appropriate amount for what you inherited.

That is correct. They’ve been dead for 20 years.

I’ll try that.

Nowhere near half a megabuck. I’ll have to call my accountant.


General rule of thumb-If they have to put “Trusted” in their name, they can’t be.

On hold at the California Unclaimed Property division now.

The funds are from an IRA, and were liquidated - so there will absolutely be federal income taxes to whomever is allowed to claim them. Johnny won’t get hit with estate taxes (the threshold is $12.92m), but the IRS will get their pound of flesh on those pre-tax IRA dollars.

OK, so I finally got through to a human. He says that since it’s unclaimed property, I shouldn’t have to pay taxes on it… but talk to my accountant.

I found five accounts on the California website, and I applied for all of them. (The one Trusted Recovery group sent was the largest. I’ve downloaded a .pdf document that I need to sign. I’ve emailed it, plus the wills, the trust, the death certificates, and an Affidavit for Collection of Personal Property (State of Arizona) to my work address where I can print them all off, sign them, and scan them.

*fingers crossed*

Excellent point, I missed that they were from an IRA. This is a moderately unusual situation for an IRA, so by all means the OP should work with an accountant to make sure things are done correctly.

Good luck, Johnny L.A.

Yep, unscrupulous companies scour states’ unclaimed-property websites (public records) and contact the owed recipients, who don’t realize they can just claim it themselves.

I check my state’s website every few years. I’ve reclaimed several hundred bucks - once for a prepaid newspaper classified ad which was canceled early (that was a long time ago!). My daughter had a final paycheck which was waiting for her.

I just went through this last year with my (living, demented) father’s and my (17 years deceased) grandmother’s lost property in CA. You absolutely don’t need any outfits like this. For small amounts, you can claim online pretty trivially. For amounts over $1000 or so, you need to submit notarized paperwork, death certificates, etc.

All these “recovery” companies do is fill out the easy parts of some of the forms. Skip them and deal directly with CA Lost Property.

The biggest complication for me is that my grandmother’s property was in her trust and I wasn’t the Trustee (but nobody else was in a position to take care of it). Sounds like you don’t have that complication.

Their website is only 5 years old.
Very amateurish logo

The photos of their ( only 3!) recovery agents look like stock photos and the page is set up so you can’t do a direct image search.

Best rule: Don’t trust anyone (even SDMB) without checking or verification.

But you can do an image search other ways. The first “asset recovery agent” image is a stock image from “Psychology Today”, used dozens of times around the internet.

I thought SDMB would be a good place to start.

My coworkers notarised my signatures, and I sent the two claim forms, two wills, the trust document, two death certificates, a copy of the front and back of my driver’s license, and a copy of my latest W-2 form, plus a cover letter, to the California Unclaimed Property Division. They should receive it Friday (I have a tracking number.) Then it should take between 45 and 145 days for a resolution.

I know. It’s the fact they tried to prevent an image search is a red flag.
If they weren’t so lazy, they could have found photos that at least looked real.

I have a vaguely similar scenario. In 2007, I inherited an elderly relative, semi-distant (by blood) but close (by geography), when she was no longer able to live alone. I got PoA and got her into care, and then cleaned out her apartment, where she’d lived for over 35 years. (Yes, that was its own horror: I still have nightmares about the prescriptions from the 1970s.)

She eventually passed, and I was her executor, but not her heir, which was fine with me. Her primary heir was her disabled niece; I got the money into her trust, all good.

Then that niece passed away, intestate. Her remaining funds (~$75K) were about to go to the state, but a savvy banker contacted me. After speaking with a lawyer, my sisters and I agreed to invest $4200 in an heir search. The good news: they found several. The bad news: we weren’t them. The good news: I managed to get ahold of them; they were of course happy about the free money (well, two of them were–the third was suspicious and opted out), and made us whole on the $4200.

So now, over a decade after the original lady passed, an account holding some stock turns up. I’m not her heir, and the estate is closed. It’s under $1K; not worth anyone’s time to engage a lawyer, but seems a shame to let it fester and eventually go to the state!

I am curious about the “you can’t do a direct image search” claim. How do they prevent that? I had no problem with copying the image and entering it into Google Image search.

I can right click and choose “take screenshot” then outline each photo in turn then download the screenshot but there’s no option to open the image in a new tab or copy the image link.
Yes, it’s a workaround but they’re clearly trying to hide the image source.

I’ve never heard of this organization, but it sounds like nothing you can’t do yourself.

When my mother passed away, the bank tried claiming she had not designated beneficiaries on her IRA. If that had been true, the money would have been paid to her state (and would, IIRC, have incurred a tax liability right away, versus being deferred).

I assume your parents’ IRAs are also without a designated beneficiary (side note: if you have an IRA or 401(k) without a beneficiary, FIX it right now).

What happened with the rest of the parents’ estate? Did that go through probate? If so, was a lawyer involved? That might be a good person to ask re the disposition of such funds. I do know that an heir can disclaim an inheritance, in which case it goes to the other heirs.

You should see what the State of California requires regarding proof of “found money”. It’s easier if it’s your “own” money, to be sure (“Yes, I’m John Smith, here’s my ID, Give me the funds from that check I forgot to cash”). I suspect this scenario would involve copies of death certificates and wills.

If it’s enough money, it may be worth a consult with an inheritance lawyer and/or a disability lawyer.

WAG here, but with your sister being on disability, it might be trickier to handle getting the money from such a service - maybe they could indeed have something signed in advance by your sister, disclaiming the funds.

You may also want to find out about the tax implications. Was any tax withheld when the money was turned over to the state? Normally, an inherited IRA can be taken on a delayed, tax-deferred basis by the heirs (e.g. I’m taking my mother’s IRA over my own lifetime, though the rules have gotten stricter). If there was no beneficiary on file, it likely would have been treated as a full cash-out, with some substantial tax withholding - possibly more than was required.

Sounds like a mess, anyway.

My method (which works, in this case) was to take a Windows screen shot (shift/copy screen), crop, paste in a graphics editor (Corel Photopaint), save, then offer to Google image search. That rarely fails, although there are undoubtedly better ways.