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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Jarndyce v. Jarndyce

One of my New Year's projects is to try for the fourth time (Dad, Diana and I, each, already have tried) to get back the unclaimed money that New York State has been withholding from us since the 1930s.  Obviously, I haven't felt the slight as long as others but I have inherited the injustice.

I am sure the amount that is held "in trust" is less than $1000, probably much, much less but the fact that they do not accept our documentation as rightful heirs is irritating since it is to us they send notifications that there is unclaimed money in the first place.  I can't help but think of Dickens' "Bleak House" and Chancery where so many lives were ruined in the pursuit of family fortune that was never to materialize.  In our case though we've only made three efforts in 30 years.  Technically, you could say we're not that bothered but we would like to close the account.  "Every little helps" as they say.
illustration from "Bleak House"

Here's the problem, the money comes from shares of stock that belonged to our step great grandmother.  I know your thinking that non-consanguineal connection nullifies our claim but it should not for a number of reasons.

1.  In true aristocratic tradition, Florence was not just a wife to our great grandfather Louis, she was his fourth cousin.  Which makes her our fourth cousin and then some. So there IS a blood connection that goes all the way back to Wales in the 1700s.

2.  Florence was the only mother our grandfather ever knew since his died a few weeks after his birth.

3.  Very important:  Florence passed away one year before Louis so he, who very much is our direct ancestor, would have inherited her possessions.

4.  His son (our grandfather) Stuart would have inherited from Louis and when Stuart died shortly after, his wife (our grandmother) Mabel would have inherited from him.  It was to Mabel that the first letters were addressed but since she had already passed away Dad picked up the thread and so on. 

I have sent scads of birth/death certificates and marriage licenses and everything you could think of including just to show the only two heirs standing are Diana and me but "The computer says Nooo".

I don't want to waste too much of my time in Chancery but I'm wondering what else can I do but plead my case one more time and leave very detailed files for the next generation to follow up. 

So wish me luck because somewhere someone must have a similar story with a better ending.



  1. Holy Moses. I think it is time to go to the press with this story. I am so sick of the bs as well. Charge on sister woman.

  2. I smell a news story here and I happen to know a publicist who would love to help with this project! ;)

  3. You "totally" need to press this matter!!! I'm cheering you on!