Billions of dollars in unclaimed money is sitting in state agencies across the nation. A large percentage of unclaimed funds stem from defunct bank accounts, property forgotten in safe deposit boxes, life insurance proceeds, and inheritance assets belonging to missing heirs.
Finding unclaimed money and property requires a little detective work, but thanks to the Internet the job has become much easier. From the comfort of home, individuals can scour state databases to determine if cash, stocks, bonds, or other assets are being held in state depositories.
Unclaimed money and property is protected under state property laws. State agencies are required to securely store lost property for a specific amount of time to provide rightful owners the opportunity to submit a claim.
Property is held during the dormancy period which can range between 1 to 10 years. The timeframe depends on the state where property is held and the type of property. If property is not claimed during the dormancy period it is transferred to escheat where it can remain for another 1 to 3 years.
If property is not claimed at the end of the escheat period, the state gains ownership of assets. Unclaimed property can be sold through public auctions and acquired funds are used to fund state expenses.
When searching for unclaimed money, it is best to search each state where you and your relatives resided. Additionally, conduct searches using all names associated with relatives including maiden names, aliases, or business names.
One trusted source for finding unclaimed money is Unclaimed.org. This non-profit organization publishes links to missing money databases across the U.S. Visitors can conduct searches to locate unclaimed funds from checking and savings accounts, pension funds, VA benefits, railroad retirement benefits, and HUD-insured property refunds.
When unclaimed money is found, owners must provide information to verify the money belongs to them. State agencies typically require claimants to provide their social security number, date of birth, home address, and a copy of their driver’s license, birth certificate, and social security card.
If unclaimed property belonged to a deceased relative, claimants must submit a copy of the decedent’s last will and testament and death certificate. Claiming inheritance assets usually requires additional paperwork than claiming assets that originally belonged to the claimant.
Unclaimed property can be held in a variety of state agencies, so it is best to conduct research at all possible locations. These can include the State Treasurer, State Controller, Department of Revenue, and Department of Commerce.
The simplest way to locate state agencies holding unclaimed money is to conduct online research. Using your favorite search engine, use specific keyword phrases such as ‘Arizona unclaimed money’ or ‘California State Treasurer’.
Those who believe they have unclaimed money, but unable to locate it through state agency databases may want to consider hiring a company that specializes in this field. Money finder companies usually charge an upfront fee and percentage of located funds. Unless fairly certain you’re entitled to large sums of money or valuable property, it is usually best to avoid working with money finder companies.
Locating unclaimed money is exciting. After all, everyone loves to receive unexpected monetary gifts! It is estimated 9 of 10 Americans have unclaimed money sitting in state agencies. Don’t let the government take your money or property. Instead, spend an hour or so conducting research. You never know what you may discover.