Subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), a consular officer may act as administrator of an estate in exceptional circumstances if expressly authorized to do so by the Secretary of State.
The responsibilities described in paragraphs (1) and (2) may not be performed to the extent that the decedent has left or there is otherwise appointed, in the country where the death occurred or where the decedent was domiciled, a legal representative, partner in trade, or trustee appointed to take care of his personal estate. If the decedent’s legal representative shall appear at any time prior to transmission of the estate to the Secretary and demand the proceeds and effects being held by the consular officer, the officer shall deliver them to the representative after having collected any prescribed fee for the services performed under this section.
Nothing in this section supersedes or otherwise affects the authority of any military commander under title 10 with respect to the person or property of any decedent who died while under a military command or jurisdiction or the authority of the Peace Corps with respect to a Peace Corps volunteer or the volunteer’s property.
After receipt of a personal estate pursuant to subsection (a), the Secretary may seek payment of all outstanding debts to the estate as they become due, may receive any balances due on such estate, may endorse all checks, bills of exchange, promissory notes, and other instruments of indebtedness payable to the estate for the benefit thereof, and may take such other action as is reasonably necessary for the conservation of the estate.
If, upon the expiration of a period of 5 fiscal years beginning on October 1 after a consular officer takes possession of a personal estate under subsection (a), no legal claimant for such estate has appeared, title to the estate shall be conveyed to the United States, the property in the estate shall be under the custody of the Department of State, and the Secretary shall dispose of the estate in the same manner as surplus United States Government-owned property is disposed or by such means as may be appropriate in light of the nature and value of the property involved. The expenses of sales shall be paid from the estate, and any lawful claim received thereafter shall be payable to the extent of the value of the net proceeds of the estate as a refund from the appropriate Treasury appropriations account.
In the event that title to real property is conveyed to the Government of the United States pursuant to subsection (a)(1)(H) and is not required by the Department of State, such property shall be considered foreign excess property under title IV of the Federal Property and Administrative Services Act of 1949.
Any such compensation shall be in lieu of personal liability of officers or employees of the Department of State.
An officer or employee of the Department of State may be liable to the Department of State to the extent of any compensation provided under paragraph (1).
The Secretary of State may prescribe such regulations as may be necessary to carry out this section.