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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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by John V. Orth, 2006

Escheats are items of property owned by a person who dies without leaving a will or known heirs, which therefore pass to the state. Technically limited to real estate, the term is commonly applied to personal property and has been extended to include unclaimed or abandoned property as well. From the time of its chartering in 1789, the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill was assigned the benefits of escheats. The North Carolina Constitution now stipulates that escheats be used to provide scholarships for needy state residents enrolled in public institutions of higher education in North Carolina.


Blackwell Robinson, The History of Escheats (1955).

Additional Resources:

North Carolina General Statutes, North Carolina General Assembly:

University of North Carolina - General Administration Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual Title: Escheat Funds:



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