Where does this money come from?
If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. However, this time-tested adage may not apply when it comes to unclaimed property. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, there are billions of dollars in unclaimed property just waiting to be claimed—and nearly 1 in 10 Americans are the rightful owners!
This money or property is typically from unclaimed bank accounts, life insurance policies, wages, refunds (e.g., utility deposits), safe deposit boxes, and uncashed dividend checks. For whatever reason, the bank or institution has lost track of the owner—often the person dies or moves without providing a forwarding address.
Banks and institutions are required to hang on to unclaimed money and property for 3 to 7 years, depending on the asset type. If they cannot locate the owner after this time, the assets are turned over to the state in which the owner last resided. The state must keep the assets indefinitely—until the rightful owner is found.
Could you be the rightful owner?
If you think you could be the rightful owner of unclaimed property, you can run a search on www.missingmoney.comor www.unclaimed.org. The latter offers an interactive map that links to each state’s unclaimed property website. Be sure to check each state in which you’ve lived. If you’ve ever lived in Canada, be sure to search unclaimed property websites there too.
Here’s Minnesota’s unclaimed property website.
Don’t fall for fraudsters
If your name shows up in an unclaimed property search, you can typically file a claim through the website. Keep in mind: these online search services and the claims processes offered by each state are FREE. Ignore requests from companies that promise to get the money for you in exchange for a fee. Do not fall for these “finders.” You can easily fill out the claim forms yourself.
Consider checking unclaimed property websites to see if there are any new amounts in your name, especially if you are the beneficiary of an estate. Sometimes money can appear many years after the estate has been settled.
Go ahead—check these websites for yourself. If you find something, follow the instructions on the site and file your claim. Claims can take from two weeks to six months to process, depending on the location. Also, be sure to search the names of your relatives and friends, and let them know if you find anything. When they receive their cash windfall, they will have you to thank!
Here are some other websites to check for other types of missing property:
- U.S. Savings Bonds: SavBonds@bpd.treas.gov or US Treasury
- Unclaimed tax refunds via IRS
- Refunds on retirement accounts
- Unclaimed insured bank deposits and dividend checks not cashed
- Unclaimed credit union deposits
- Unclaimed funds in bankruptcy
If you have questions about searching for or claiming property, we can help. Contact us today to learn more.