Copyright notice

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.

Is anything in this article factually incorrect? Please submit a comment.

Printer-friendly page


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:



Add a comment

PLEASE NOTE: NCpedia provides the comments feature as a way for viewers to engage with the resources. Comments are not published until reviewed by NCpedia editors at the State Library of NC, and the editors reserve the right to not publish any comment submitted that is considered inappropriate for this resource. NCpedia will not publish personal contact information in comments, questions, or responses. If you would like a reply by email, note that some email servers, such as public school accounts, are blocked from accepting messages from outside email servers or domains. If you prefer not to leave an email address, check back at your NCpedia comment for a reply. Please allow one business day for replies from NCpedia. Complete guidelines are available at