2009 Texas Code
PROPERTY CODE
TITLE 6. UNCLAIMED PROPERTY
CHAPTER 71. ESCHEAT OF PROPERTY  

PROPERTY CODE

TITLE 6. UNCLAIMED PROPERTY

CHAPTER 71. ESCHEAT OF PROPERTY

SUBCHAPTER A. GENERAL PROVISIONS

Sec. 71.001. ESCHEAT. (a) If an individual dies intestate and

without heirs, the real and personal property of that individual

is subject to escheat.

(b) "Escheat" means the vesting of title to property in the

state in an escheat proceeding under Subchapter B.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3585, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984. Amended by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 230, Sec. 2, eff.

Sept. 1, 1985.

Sec. 71.002. PRESUMPTION OF DEATH. An individual is presumed

dead for the purpose of determining if the individual's real or

personal property is subject to escheat if the individual:

(1) is absent from the individual's place of residence for seven

years or longer; and

(2) is not known to exist.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3585, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984. Amended by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 230, Sec. 3, eff.

Sept. 1, 1985.

Sec. 71.003. PRESUMPTION OF INTESTACY. An individual is

presumed to have died intestate if, on or before the seventh

anniversary of the date of the individual's death, the

individual's will has not been recorded or probated in the county

where the individual's property is located.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3585, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984.

Sec. 71.004. PRESUMPTION OF DEATH WITHOUT HEIRS. An individual

is presumed to have died leaving no heirs if for the seven-year

period preceding the court's determination:

(1) a lawful claim to the individual's property has not been

asserted; and

(2) a lawful act of ownership of the individual's property has

not been exercised.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3585, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984.

Sec. 71.005. ACT OF OWNERSHIP. For the purposes of this

chapter, an individual exercises a lawful act of ownership in

property by, personally or through an agent, paying taxes to this

state on the property.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3585, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984.

Sec. 71.006. REVIEW OF PROBATE DECREE. (a) If the state claims

that an estate that has been administered in probate court in

this state is subject to escheat, the state may have the judgment

of the probate court reviewed by filing a petition in district

court alleging that the administration of the estate was obtained

by fraud or mistake of fact.

(b) The case shall be tried in accordance with the law for the

revision and correction of a decree of the probate court.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3585, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984.

Sec. 71.007. IDENTIFICATION OF REAL PROPERTY SUBJECT TO ESCHEAT.

The tax assessor-collector of each county shall:

(1) take all steps necessary to identify real property that may

be subject to escheat; and

(2) notify the commissioner of the General Land Office and the

attorney general so that they may take appropriate action.

Added by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1276, Sec. 13.002(d), eff.

Sept. 1, 2003.

SUBCHAPTER B. ESCHEAT PROCEEDINGS

Sec. 71.101. PETITION FOR ESCHEAT. (a) If any person,

including the attorney general, the comptroller, or a district

attorney, criminal district attorney, county attorney, county

clerk, district clerk, or attorney ad litem is informed or has

reason to believe that real or personal property is subject to

escheat under this chapter, the person may file a sworn petition

requesting the escheat of the property and requesting a writ of

possession for the property.

(b) The petition must contain:

(1) a description of the property;

(2) the name of the deceased owner of the property;

(3) the name of the tenants or persons claiming the estate, if

known; and

(4) the facts supporting the escheat of the estate.

(c) If the petition is filed by a person other than the attorney

general, the person shall send to the attorney general written

notice of the filing and a copy of the petition to permit the

attorney general to elect to participate on behalf of the state.

(d) An action brought under this section is governed by the

procedure relating to class actions provided by the Texas Rules

of Civil Procedure.

(e) A petition filed under this section is not subject to an

objection relating to misjoinder of parties or causes of action.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3586, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984. Amended by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 230, Sec. 4, eff.

Sept. 1, 1985; Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 153, Sec. 1, eff. Sept.

1, 1991; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1037, Sec. 4, eff. Sept. 1,

1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1423, Sec. 16.01, eff. Sept. 1,

1997.

Sec. 71.102. CITATION. (a) If a petition is filed under this

subchapter, the district clerk shall issue citation as in other

civil suits to:

(1) each defendant alleged by the petition to possess or claim

the property that is the subject of the petition;

(2) any person required by this chapter to be cited; and

(3) persons interested in the estate, including lienholders of

record.

(b) The citation required by Subdivision (3) of Subsection (a)

must be published as required for other civil suits and must:

(1) briefly state the contents of the petition; and

(2) request all persons interested in the estate to appear and

answer at the next term of the court.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3587, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984. Amended by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 923, Sec. 21, eff.

Aug. 26, 1985.

Sec. 71.103. PARTY TO PROCEEDING. (a) A person who exercises a

lawful act of ownership in property that is the subject of an

escheat proceeding must be made a party to the proceeding by:

(1) personal service of citation if the person is a resident of

this state and the person's address can be obtained by reasonable

diligence; or

(2) service of citation on a person's agent if the person is a

nonresident or a resident who cannot be found and the agent can

be found by the use of reasonable diligence.

(b) For the purposes of this section, reasonable diligence

includes an inquiry and investigation of the records of the

office of the tax assessor-collector of the county in which the

property sought to be escheated is located.

(c) The comptroller is an indispensable party to any judicial or

administrative proceeding concerning the disposition and handling

of property that is the subject of an escheat proceeding and must

be made a party to the proceeding by personal service of

citation.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3587, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 153, Sec. 2, eff.

Sept. 1, 1991; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1037, Sec. 5, eff. Sept.

1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1423, Sec. 16.02, eff. Sept.

1, 1997.

Sec. 71.104. APPEARANCE OF CLAIMANTS. Any person, whether named

in the escheat petition or not, who claims an interest in

property that is the subject of an escheat proceeding may appear,

enter a pleading, and oppose the facts stated in the petition.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3588, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984.

Sec. 71.105. TRIAL. (a) If a person appears and denies the

state's right to the property or opposes a material fact of the

petition, the court shall try the issue as any other issue of

fact.

(b) The court may order a survey as in other cases in which the

title or the boundary of the land is in question.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3588, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984.

Sec. 71.106. DEFAULT JUDGMENT. If citation is issued in

accordance with Section 71.102 and no person answers within the

period provided by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, the court

shall render a default judgment in favor of the state.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3588, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984.

Sec. 71.107. JUDGMENT FOR STATE. (a) If the court renders a

judgment for the state finding that an intestate died without

heirs, the property escheats to the state and title to the

property is considered to pass to the state on the date of death

of the owner as established by the escheat proceeding. The court

may award court costs to the state.

(b) If the judgment involves real property, the state may sell

the property under the general laws governing the sale of

Permanent School Fund lands, and, after the second anniversary of

the date of the final judgment, the court shall issue a writ of

possession for the property.

(c) If the judgment involves personal property, the court shall

issue a writ of possession that contains an adequate description

of the property as in other cases for recovery of personal

property.

(d) When the record of an escheat proceeding reflects that a

lienholder or his predecessor received actual or constructive

notice of the escheat proceeding, the entry of the judgment in

the escheat proceeding will either satisfy or extinguish any lien

which the lienholder or his predecessor claimed or could have

claimed on the escheated property at the escheat proceeding.

(e) The sheriff, constable, court clerk, or other officer

appointed by the judge in an escheat proceeding shall execute a

writ of possession by filing the writ with the deed or map

records of the county when the escheated property relates to

realty and by serving the writ on any holder, tenant, or occupant

of any escheated property. Additionally, the person who executes

a writ of possession shall either:

(1) post the writ for at least three consecutive weeks on the

door or posting board of the county courthouse in the county

where the proceeding was conducted or in the county where the

property is located; or

(2) in the case of real property, post the writ for at least two

consecutive weeks at a reasonably conspicuous place on the

realty; or

(3) publicize the writ in any other fashion ordered by the

court.

(f) After validly executing a writ of possession, the sheriff,

constable, court clerk, or other appointed officer shall note the

method of the execution of the writ on the writ return and shall

return the writ to the clerk to be filed in the court records of

the escheat proceeding.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3588, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984. Amended by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 230, Sec. 5, eff.

Sept. 1, 1985; Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 923, Sec. 22, eff. Aug.

26, 1985.

Sec. 71.108. COSTS PAID BY STATE. If the property does not

escheat, the state shall pay court costs. The clerk of the court

shall certify the amount of the costs, and when the certificate

is filed in the office of the comptroller of public accounts, the

comptroller shall issue a warrant for the amount of the costs.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3588, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984.

Sec. 71.109. APPEAL; WRIT OF ERROR. A party who appeared at an

escheat proceeding may appeal the judgment rendered or may file

an application for a writ of error on the judgment. The attorney

general or the other person acting on behalf of the state in the

escheat proceeding may make an appeal or file the writ.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3589, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984.

SUBCHAPTER C. DISPOSITION OF ESCHEATED PROPERTY

Sec. 71.201. SEIZURE AND SALE OF PERSONAL PROPERTY. (a) If

personal property escheated to the state, the court shall issue

to the sheriff a writ that commands the sheriff to seize the

escheated property.

(b) The sheriff shall:

(1) dispose of the personal property at public auction in

accordance with the law regarding the sale of personal property

under execution; and

(2) deposit into the State Treasury the proceeds of the sale,

less court costs.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3589, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984.

Sec. 71.202. DISPOSITION OF REAL PROPERTY. (a) Real property

that escheats to the state under this title before January 1,

1985, becomes a part of the permanent school fund. Real property

that escheats to the state on or after January 1, 1985, is held

in trust by the Commissioner of the General Land Office for the

use and benefit of the foundation school fund. The revenue from

all leases, sales, and use of land held for the foundation school

fund shall be deposited to the credit of the foundation school

fund.

(b) Before the 91st day after the day on which a judgment that

provides for the recovery of real property is rendered, the clerk

of the district court rendering the judgment shall send to the

Commissioner of the General Land Office:

(1) a certified copy of the judgment; and

(2) notice of any appeal of that judgment.

(c) The commissioner shall list real property as escheated

foundation school fund land or permanent school land as

appropriate when the commissioner receives:

(1) a certified copy of a judgment under which the property

escheats to the state and from which appeal is not taken; or

(2) a certified copy of notice of the affirmance on appeal of a

judgment under which the property escheats to the state.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3589, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984. Amended by Acts 1984, 68th Leg., 2nd C.S., ch. 28, art. II,

part B, Sec. 13, eff. Sept. 1, 1984.

Sec. 71.203. ACCOUNT OF ESCHEATED PROPERTY. The comptroller

shall keep an account of the money paid to and real property

vested in this state under this chapter.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3590, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984.

SUBCHAPTER D. RECOVERY OF ESCHEATED PROPERTY

Sec. 71.301. SUIT FOR ESCHEATED PERSONAL PROPERTY. (a) If

personal property of a deceased owner escheats to the state under

this chapter and is delivered to the state, a person who claims

the property as an heir, devisee, or legatee of the deceased may

file suit against the state in a district court of Travis County,

Texas. The suit must be filed on or before the fourth anniversary

of the date of the final judgment of the escheat proceeding.

(b) The petition must state the nature of the claim and request

that the money be paid to the claimant.

(c) A copy of the petition shall be served on the comptroller,

who shall represent the interests of the state. As the

comptroller elects and with the approval of the attorney general,

the attorney general, the county attorney or criminal district

attorney for the county, or the district attorney for the

district shall represent the comptroller.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3590, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 153, Sec. 3, eff.

Sept. 1, 1991; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1037, Sec. 6, eff. Sept.

1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1423, Sec. 16.03, eff. Sept.

1, 1997.

Sec. 71.302. RECOVERY OF PERSONAL PROPERTY. (a) If in a suit

filed under Section 71.301 the court finds that a claimant is

entitled to recover personal property, the court shall order the

comptroller to issue a warrant for payment of the claim without

interest or costs.

(b) A copy of the order under seal of the court is sufficient

voucher for issuing the warrant.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3590, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984.

Sec. 71.303. SUIT FOR ESCHEATED REAL PROPERTY. (a) If real

property escheats to the state under this chapter, a person who

was not personally served with citation in the escheat

proceedings may file suit in the district court of Travis County

for all or a part of the property. The suit must be filed not

later than the second anniversary of the date of the final

judgment in the escheat proceedings.

(b) A copy of the petition must be served on the attorney

general, who shall represent the interests of the state.

(c) To the extent the claimant is adjudged to be the owner of

all or a part of the property, the state is divested of the

property.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3590, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 153, Sec. 4, eff.

Sept. 1, 1991.

Sec. 71.304. STATE AS PARTY IN SUIT FOR ASSETS. (a) A suit

brought for the collection of personal property delivered to the

comptroller under this chapter must be brought in the name of

this state.

(b) A suit brought for the possession of real property held in

trust by the Commissioner of the General Land Office under this

chapter must be brought in the name of this state.

Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3591, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1,

1984. Amended by Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 153, Sec. 4, eff.

Sept. 1, 1991; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1037, Sec. 7, eff. Sept.

1, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 1423, Sec. 16.04, eff. Sept.

1, 1997.

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