Unclaimed property refers to accounts in financial institutions and companies that have had no activity generated or contact with the owner for a period of one year or longer (depending upon state law). Common forms of unclaimed property include savings or checking accounts, stocks, uncashed dividends or payroll checks, refunds, traveler’s checks, trust distributions, unredeemed money orders or gift certificates (in some states), insurance payments or refunds and life insurance policies, annuities, certificates of deposit, customer overpayments, utility security deposits, mineral royalty payments, and contents of safe deposit boxes.
Financial institutions and companies will turn these funds over to a state unclaimed property department where the funds are held until claimed by the owner. This typically occurs when you relocate, close a business address, misplace a check, etc. It can also occur if you are the beneficiary of an estate and the trustee is unable to locate you.
There are various ways to locate these assets. There are commercial firms that may seek you out. However, you can perform a search for free in a number of ways. For instance, each state has a website for its unclaimed property department, allowing you to search state by state. Generally, one would only search the state that he or she has been a resident of.
There is also a website developed by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) that provides links from a map to each individual’s state’s search site. NAUPA is also currently developing a search site that will locate unclaimed money in all states called missingmoney.com. However, that site is currently under development and does not include all states, so it is wise to check both it and all states in which you have been a resident.
What are your odds of finding some lost money? Well, the author, while researching this article, found three accounts in his name totaling over $1,200. A nice bonus for writing the article! Who knows what you will find, but it only takes a few minutes to check and could yield some pleasant surprises. On its website, NAUPA indicated that the average claim was $892.
If you have any questions, please give this office a call.