Finding Unclaimed Money
Hubber Charlu has asked the question Have you ever checked to see if you have missing money or unclaimed money for free with your state?
He then goes on to describe how he did a free search at a site called missing money and discovered an unpaid salary check from 1998 for himself and another one for his father who passed away 25 years ago.
Charlu goes on to say that the search was free and his only cost was for the stamp needed to mail the claim form to the state.
A quick Google search using the words missing money in the search box came up with a number sites offering assistance in searching for unclaimed property.
The first site in the search results was missingmoney.com and the second one was www.unclaimed.org which is the home page of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators or NAUPA.
The missing money site is owned and operated by a subsidiary of Xerox Corporation called The ACS Unclaimed Property Clearinghouse.
The primary business of ACS is working with companies in the United States and Canada to help them comply with unclaimed property laws of their state or province.
This is an important service as each state or province has its own laws regarding unclaimed property and the laws differ depending upon the state or province.
What is Unclaimed Property
Unclaimed property is property belonging to individuals that has been placed with a business and forgotten.
According to the website of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), the most common types of unclaimed property are 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.
Unbelievable as it may seem people do forget to close bank accounts, forget to cash pay, dividend and other commercial checks and die without informing heirs of money and other valuables being left behind.
Under the laws of the fifty U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the provinces of Canada, banks and other businesses cannot simply keep these unclaimed funds and other property. Instead they have to first make a good faith effort, as defined by local law, to locate the owners of the abandoned property.
When, after a period, stipulated by law, of attempting to locate the rightful owners or their heirs without success, the bank or business holding the property is required to turn the funds or other property over to the state or provincial government.
At this point the government assumes the task of safeguarding the property while, at the same time continuing efforts to locate the owners or heirs. Depending upon the law, which varies some from state to state and province to province, the government will hold the abandoned funds for decades or even forever in some jurisdictions while continuing to search for the owners of the property or their heirs.
These laws are based upon the British common law doctrine of escheat, a practice by which, in times past provided that property left behind by a deceased person with no heirs be transferred to the crown (i.e., the then reigning King or Queen of England) rather than being left without any owners responsible for it.
In the case of physical property, such as the contents of safe deposit boxes, there is usually a fixed number of years which the state is required to keep the property before selling it.
Unlike money which is simply deposited in a government account at a bank, holding physical property entails costs for storage, inventorying and providing security so this property is eventually sold if it remains unclaimed.
Governments in the U.S. and Canada are Holding over $32 BILLION in Unclaimed Property
It may be difficult to believe that people would forget about money that is theirs.
However, according to the NAUPA website, some $32.877 Billion worth of unclaimed property is currently being held by state and provincial unclaimed property administrators in the U.S. and Canada.
This nearly thirty-three Billion dollars worth of money has been turned over to state and provincial treasuries for safekeeping from over 117 million abandoned accounts.
With Good Free Sites to Search There is No Need to Use Sites or Services that Charge Fees
While a Google or other search for unclaimed property, unclaimed money, missing money, etc. will produce numerous results you should be careful and avoid any that ask for a fee as, from my non-exhaustive research it appears that no U.S. state or territory or Canadian province levy any fees for their services.
Both the ACS Unclaimed Property Clearinghouse’s missingmoney.com site and the NAUPA’s unclaimed.org site provide their information for free and have links to the individual sites of most U.S. states and Canadian provinces (they are working on adding others) none of which seem to charge for their services.
In fact, when you click on the link on the NAUPA site for the Canadian Province of Alberta’s site you will see that the Alberta site has box at the top states that neither the missingmoney.com nor the unclaimedproperty.alberta.ca site charge a service fee while other sites may charge fees.
Many fee charging sites are legitimate and there is nothing wrong with their charging a fee for their research services.
In the pre-Internet era paying fees made sense in many cases as considerable time and effort was invested by these services to research, locate and publish this information.
However, the Internet makes it relatively easy and inexpensive for state and provincial governments to move this information to the Internet and keep it up to date.
Links to Sources and Information
- Missing Money Free Search for Unclaimed Property - Officially endorsed By The States and Provinces
Officially endorsed by NAUPA and the participating states and provinces, FREE national search for your missing money. State and provincial governments working together to safeguard and return your lost funds
- New Zealand Unclaimed money 2010 - 0-9
An alphabetical listing of all the people and organisations that have unclaimed money that Inland Revenue is holding.
- Australia Unclaimed Moneys and Dormant Accounts
Find and Recover Unclaimed Moneys
- Unclaimed Asset Search - in the Great Britain, Scotland & Wales
UK Unclaimed Assets - Dormant accounts, abandoned shares, windfalls and orphan funds in England, Scotland and Wales
- Alberta Finance - Our Business - Unclaimed Property - Index
Service to Albertans who have lost track of property as a result of business or personal circumstances, through a central registry administered by Alberta Finance, Tax and Revenue Administration (TRA).
Home Page of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.
- Escheat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Explanation of the term escheat.