Do You Have Unclaimed Money or Property?

by Gina Blitstein · 0 comments

Recently, I received an email from a family member, telling me that she discovered my husband’s name on the State Treasurer’s list of unclaimed property. She sent a link and of course we eagerly clicked through. Sure enough, we found his name and a note saying he had, “between $10 and $100 in unclaimed property,” being held by the state.

I got busy finding out how to claim our “new-found riches.” What money is it? Why would we have unclaimed property?” I wondered. All that came to mind was thrity-some dollars in a credit union account many years ago. They had contacted us to come in to get a check for the balance because they were closing. We never did get over there to pick up that check – so we’d assumed that the money was long gone. Could that be the money the state was holding for us?

From the State Treasurer’s site, I downloaded a list of what needed to be provided as proof of identity and a form to be notarized. We copied the necessary documents, enclosed them with the notarized form and sent it off to the State Capitol. A mere three weeks later, we received a confirmation letter, informing us that the claim was approved and to expect a check shortly. It also informed us that in addition to the credit union account balance, there were two other small amounts from stock he’d owned at a long-ago job. The total of our unclaimed property actually turned out to be more than $150. A nice little sum to drop in our laps unexpectedly!

Could you have unclaimed property of which you’re unaware?

The definition of unclaimed property is, “Any financial asset that appears to have been abandoned by the owner.” State laws require financial institutions, public utilities, and various other entities to report personal property or accounts that have been inactive for some period of time specified by state law and whose owners’ whereabouts are unknown.

You could easily be among the 30 million Americans who are believed to have unclaimed property. It’s common for state governments to be holding more than $10 billion in unclaimed money and property and for an equal amount to be held collectively by other applicable institutions.

Common unclaimed property is:

  • Utility deposits
  • Credit balances
  • Store refunds
  • Uncashed dividend, payroll or cashier’s checks
  • Stock certificates or accounts, bonds or mutual fund accounts
  • Life insurance policy proceeds
  • Undistributed wages
  • Checking and savings accounts
  • Gift certificates
  • Travelers checks
  • Safe deposit boxes
  • Royalty payments
  • Court payments or deposits

You and your property could have been separated because you’ve:

  • moved, with or without providing a forwarding address.
  • been laid off from a job, reassigned or retired.
  • not made a transaction in a checking or savings account for more than three years.
  • stopped paying premiums on an insurance policy.
  • not cashed a check made out to you over three years ago.
  • unknowingly discarded notification of the existence of the property.
  • settled a family member’s estate.

Retrieving your unclaimed property

Since you could have unclaimed property in any state in which you’ve lived, check each state’s website for means by which to discover and recover it. A useful resource is Unclaimed property can be tracked down relatively easily. Many states have searchable databases for this purpose – if not, contact them by mail. Be certain to follow all instructions carefully and provide all necessary documentation. There’s no need to pay a service to search for unclaimed property on your behalf – they can be costly and eat into your found money.

Do you have an unclaimed windfall waiting to be discovered?

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