(1) In all cases in which there is unclaimed property in the hands of a personal representative that cannot be distributed or paid because of the inability to find the lawful owner or because no lawful owner is known or because the lawful owner refuses to accept the property after a reasonable attempt to distribute it and after notice to that lawful owner, the court shall order the personal representative to sell the property and deposit the proceeds and cash already in hand, after retaining those amounts provided for in subsection (4), with the clerk and receive a receipt, and the clerk shall deposit the funds in the registry of the court to be disposed of as follows:
(a) If the value of the funds is $500 or less, the clerk shall post a notice for 30 days at the courthouse door giving the amount involved, the name of the personal representative, and the other pertinent information that will put interested persons on notice.
(b) If the value of the funds is over $500, the clerk shall publish the notice once a month for 2 consecutive months in a newspaper of general circulation in the county.
After the expiration of 6 months from the posting or first publication, the clerk shall deposit the funds with the Chief Financial Officer after deducting the clerk’s fees and the costs of publication.
(2) Upon receipt of the funds, the Chief Financial Officer shall deposit them to the credit of the State School Fund, to become a part of the school fund. All interest and all income that may accrue from the money while so deposited shall belong to the fund. The funds so deposited shall constitute and be a permanent appropriation for payments by the Chief Financial Officer in obedience to court orders entered as provided by subsection (3).
(3) Within 10 years from the date of deposit with the Chief Financial Officer, on written petition to the court that directed the deposit of the funds and informal notice to the Department of Legal Affairs, and after proof of entitlement, any person entitled to the funds before or after payment to the Chief Financial Officer and deposit as provided by subsection (1) may obtain a court order directing the payment of the funds to that person. All funds deposited with the Chief Financial Officer and not claimed within 10 years from the date of deposit shall escheat to the state for the benefit of the State School Fund.
(4) The personal representative depositing assets with the clerk is permitted to retain from the funds a sufficient amount to pay final costs of administration chargeable to the assets accruing between the deposit of the funds with the clerk of the court and the order of discharge. Any funds so retained which are surplus shall be deposited with the clerk prior to discharge of the personal representative.
(5)(a) If a person entitled to the funds assigns the right to receive payment or part payment to an attorney or private investigative agency which is duly licensed to do business in this state pursuant to a written agreement with that person, the Department of Financial Services is authorized to make distribution in accordance with the assignment.
(b) Payments made to an attorney or private investigative agency shall be promptly deposited into a trust or escrow account which is regularly maintained by the attorney or private investigative agency in a financial institution located in this state and authorized to accept these deposits.
(c) Distribution by the attorney or private investigative agency to the person entitled to the funds shall be made within 10 days following final credit of the deposit into the trust or escrow account at the financial institution, unless a party to the agreement protests the distribution in writing before it is made.
(d) The department shall not be civilly or criminally liable for any funds distributed pursuant to this subsection, provided the distribution is made in good faith.