Money You may be Forgetting: Paypal, Venmo and Other Money Transfer Apps

As part of my business, I help families find assets in their lost loved one’s names.  Of course, you initially think this means forgotten stocks, life insurance policies, 401ks, unclaimed property etc., but something that is even new for me is finding untapped funds within money transfer accounts.  If your lost loved one had a money transfer app, they could be leaving behind balances on those accounts that could mean money back to your family.  

First, what is are money transfer applications? 

A money transfer app is an application that connects to a user’s bank account or credit card, allowing them to pay other users or receive funds from other users on the app.  It is widely used in personal settings (think of paying a friend back for the uber ride you shared), but there are some who are also using these apps for business settings (those with ebay stores are typically receiving payment through paypal).  

Here are the most common money transfer app options on the market:

  • Venmo
  • Paypal 
  • Zelle
  • Google Pay 
  • Square Cash App 
  • Facebook messenger 

So how do you access these funds so they can get back to your family and how do you close them out so no one can access them again (or more importantly, gain access to the bank account/credit card associated with the account). 

Accessing and transferring funds:  

Access the app through their phone: The most ideal and seamless way to access these funds is opening the app on the user’s phone and transferring any balances to the bank account associated with the money transfer app. 

This would assume you can get into the user’s phone, which is not always the case.  So, if you are not able to unlock the user’s phone, here are some additional routes to take:

Log into their email: If you have access to the user’s email, you can try to reset the password of the money transfer app and have a reset link sent to the money associated with the account. Once you are able to get in, then complete step 1.  

If you are not able to access their phone or email, then you will need to resort to contacting the app directly:

Contact the money transfer app help center

Each system has a process that typically involves sending the below information to their offices:

  • Copy of death certificate 
  • Copy of your driver’s license 
  • Copy of documentation proving you are the executor of the estate 

Most apps will be able to either cut a check for the balance in the deceased user’s name or transfer money back to the bank account associated with the account.  

Something to note is that there are several money transfer apps like Zelle that do not have a fund holding feature allowing you to maintain a balance on the app. Meaning that apps like Zelle only transfer money and the funds received are directly deposited into the bank account associated with the account. 

Helpful links:

Closing a paypal account of deceased relative

Accessing a deceased person’s google account

Other customer service contact pages:

Venmo customer service

Square Cash App customer service 

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