Disposition of effects of deceased persons
The Administrator of a facility of the Retirement Home shall safeguard and dispose of the estate and personal effects of deceased residents, including effects delivered to such facility under sections 7712(f) and 9712(f) of title 10, and shall ensure the following:
(1) A will or other instrument of a testamentary nature involving property rights executed by a resident shall be promptly delivered, upon the death of the resident, to the proper court of record.
If a resident dies intestate and the heirs or legal representative of the deceased cannot be immediately ascertained, the Administrator shall retain all property left by the decedent for a three-year period beginning on the date of the death. If entitlement to such property is established to the satisfaction of the Administrator at any time during the three-year period, the Administrator shall distribute the decedent’s property, in equal pro-rata shares when multiple beneficiaries have been identified, to the highest following categories of identified survivors (listed in the order of precedence indicated):
(A) The surviving spouse or legal representative.
(B) The children of the deceased.
(C) The parents of the deceased.
(D) The siblings of the deceased.
(E) The next-of-kin of the deceased.
Sale of effects
(A) If the disposition of the estate of a resident of the Retirement Home cannot be accomplished under subsection (a)(2) or if a resident dies testate and the nominated fiduciary, legatees, or heirs of the resident cannot be immediately ascertained, the entirety of the deceased resident’s domiciliary estate and the entirety of any ancillary estate that is unclaimed at the end of the three-year period beginning on the date of the death of the resident shall escheat to the Retirement Home.
(B) Upon the sale of any such unclaimed estate property, the proceeds of the sale shall be deposited in the Armed Forces Retirement Home Trust Fund.
(C) If a personal representative or other fiduciary is appointed to administer a deceased resident’s estate and the administration is completed before the end of such three-year period, the balance of the entire net proceeds of the estate, less expenses, shall be deposited directly in the Armed Forces Retirement Home Trust Fund. The heirs or legatees of the deceased resident may file a claim made with the Secretary of Defense to reclaim such proceeds. A determination of the claim by the Secretary shall be subject to judicial review exclusively by the United States Court of Federal Claims.
(A) The Administrator of a facility of the Retirement Home may designate an attorney who is a full-time officer or employee of the United States or a member of the Armed Forces on active duty to serve as attorney or agent for the facility in any probate proceeding in which the Retirement Home may have a legal interest as nominated fiduciary, testamentary legatee, escheat legatee, or in any other capacity.
(B) An attorney designated under this paragraph may, in the domiciliary jurisdiction of the deceased resident and in any ancillary jurisdiction, petition for appointment as fiduciary. The attorney shall have priority over any petitioners (other than the deceased resident’s nominated fiduciary, named legatees, or heirs) to serve as fiduciary. In a probate proceeding in which the heirs of an intestate deceased resident cannot be located and in a probate proceeding in which the nominated fiduciary, legatees, or heirs of a testate deceased resident cannot be located, the attorney shall be appointed as the fiduciary of the deceased resident’s estate.
(3) The designation of an employee or representative of a facility of the Retirement Home as personal representative of the estate of a resident of the Retirement Home or as a legatee under the will or codicil of the resident shall not disqualify an employee or staff member of that facility from serving as a competent witness to a will or codicil of the resident.
After the end of the three-year period beginning on the date of the death of a resident of a facility, the Administrator of the facility shall dispose of all property of the deceased resident that is not otherwise disposed of under this subsection, including personal effects such as decorations, medals, and citations to which a right has not been established under subsection (a). Disposal may be made within the discretion of the Administrator by—
(A) retaining such property or effects for the facility;
(B) offering such items to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, a State, another military home, a museum, or any other institution having an interest in such items; or
(C) destroying any items determined by the Administrator to be valueless.
(1) A claim for the net proceeds of the sale under subsection (b) of the effects of a deceased may be filed with the Secretary of Defense at any time within six years after the death of the deceased, for action under section 2771 of title 10.
(2) A claim referred to in paragraph (1) may not be considered by a court or the Secretary unless the claim is filed within the time period prescribed in such paragraph.
(3) A claim allowed by the Secretary under paragraph (1) shall be certified to the Secretary of the Treasury for payment from the Fund in the amount found due, including any interest relating to the amount. No claim may be allowed or paid in excess of the net proceeds of the estate deposited in the Fund under subsection (c) plus interest.
(Pub. L. 101–510, div. A, title XV, § 1520, Nov. 5, 1990, 104 Stat. 1731; Pub. L. 103–160, div. A, title III, § 366(d), (e), Nov. 30, 1993, 107 Stat. 1631; Pub. L. 104–316, title II, § 202(j), Oct. 19, 1996, 110 Stat. 3843; Pub. L. 107–107, div. A, title XIV, §§ 1408, 1410(a)(3), Dec. 28, 2001, 115 Stat. 1265, 1266; Pub. L. 107–314, div. A, title X, § 1062(f)(3), Dec. 2, 2002, 116 Stat. 2651; Pub. L. 108–136, div. A, title X, § 1045(g), Nov. 24, 2003, 117 Stat. 1613; Pub. L. 112–81, div. A, title V, §§ 564(b), 567(c)(6), Dec. 31, 2011, 125 Stat. 1424, 1426; Pub. L. 115–232, div. A, title VIII, § 809(g), Aug. 13, 2018, 132 Stat. 1842.)