When the verdict on such inquest is for the Commonwealth, any person claiming any interest in the lands, whether legal or equitable, may, before the sale thereof, petition the circuit court for redress. The petition shall be accompanied by a bond with good security to pay the Commonwealth all past due real estate taxes, penalties and interest on such lands. To such petition the escheator shall be the sole defendant on behalf of the Commonwealth. He shall file an answer stating the objections to the claim. The cause shall be heard, without any unnecessary delay, upon the petition and answer and the evidence. Upon a judgment in favor of the claimant, he shall pay all past due taxes, penalties and interest. Upon said judgment, the court may, in its discretion, allow attorney’s fees to the escheator, who may appear on his own behalf. For real estate assessment purposes, the commissioner of the revenue or assessor shall continue to assess any escheated property.
Code 1919, § 497; 1983, c. 482; 1990, c. 938.