- Personal Finance
Where and How to Find Unclaimed Money and Property from State Treasuries
Money Waiting For You
Property Waiting to be Found
Each state treasury is in possession of money and unclaimed property belonging to both individuals and organizations. Money and property is reported to the states by businesses, financial institutions, corporations and insurance companies after there has been no customer contact for a period of three or more years. Oftentimes owners forget about these accounts, move or in some cases die and family members/heirs are unaware of these accounts.
The most common types of property that are unclaimed are insurance polices, safe deposit box contents, bank accounts, money orders/cashier checks (uncashed), estates, stocks, dividends, mutual funds, escrow accounts, mineral interests and trust funds. Items are kept in storage and are available for claiming through each state's treasury website.
Finding State Treasury Websites
Each state has its own unclaimed property program, but most states comply with a version of the UUPA (Unified Unclaimed Propery Act) enacted by the federal govermant to create uniformity in handling unclaimed property. The design of the state treasury websites vary from state to state, and many states have their own byline for unclaimed property. For instance there is Money Quest Alabama, The Great Colorado Payback and Cash Dash Illinois, which are just a few examples.
In reviewing each state treasury website, it’s clear that they are user friendly, and they want to ensure that unclaimed property is returned to the rightful owners. Most ask for only a last name or company name to explore whether there is unclaimed property. You can add your first name as well, but some of the properties are listed under a first initial rather then a full first name. It's best to start with general information, such as last name only or company name only, and then begin to narrow your search.
It's best not to limit yourself by putting in a city, especially if you have had a variety of addresses within the state. Different addresses may appear with the same name.
Go directly to your state treasurer’s website, or for a complete list of every state’s website, along with the District of Columbia, click on this link:
My Experience Finding Money
I searched two state websites where I had lived. I initially didn't believe that I would find any money under my name, and yet I did. There were two old policies that I had closed that I didn't even remember. My states listed dollar amounts with <$10, >$50.00, and >$100.00, not exact amounts. I did have to notarize the affidavits I filled out because the dollar amount owed to me was over $100. My states also required proof that I lived at the addresses listed. These claims took over three months to be processed and mailed to me.
Please note, not every state lists dollar amounts at all. By filling out the documentation for your state, you may have a better idea about the dollar value owed to you.
Claiming Your Money
Remember that you are dealing with the government. Specific documentation is required, so be sure you have everything submitted correctly. Your claim will be delayed without proper documentation. They may ask for information about a name change or about the address for the unclaimed property. You will have to fill out an affidavit form, which may also need to be notarized.
The forms and instructions are very manageable, but again, make sure that you follow the directions and provide everything they ask for, as claims take at least 12-18 weeks. Should you not enclose the correct documentation, they will send it back to you.
Mutual funds, safekeeping items and stock may have a physical certificate agent notifying you that shares were transferred electronically. That letter may include instructions on the different ways to access your shares and may also take 6-8 weeks longer.
Pass This Forward
Take the time to research your family members and your friends. I’ve passed on this information to the many that I found, from a variety of states. I used the link above and clicked through states where my friends and family live or have lived. One friend that I found had in excess of $1,000! Everyone you find, will find someone eise, and we will all play a part in helping others to obtain money and property that belongs to them.
Every U.S state treasury wants this unclaimed property to be found! Even if you don't believe that there is something waiting for you, you may have a pleasant surprise waiting for you!