Do You Have Unclaimed Property?
By Mack Bekeza, CFP®
Did you know that 1 out of 10 Americans have something called Unclaimed Property? Did you also know that, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, approximately over $1,000,000,000 of unclaimed property is returned to its rightful owners/heirs annually? Yes, you read that right, $1,000,000,000 annually!!
But wait? What is Unclaimed Property in the first place? For those who are looking for ways to make money during hard times, finding unclaimed property can potentially provide some significant relief!
What is Unclaimed Property
Unclaimed Property is any property held by an institution or company that has no reported activity from its owner for at least a year or longer and sent to the State where the owner currently lives or lived at the time the property was not considered abandoned.
What kinds of property are commonly Unclaimed
Unclaimed property comes in many shapes and sizes but below are the most common types of unclaimed property:
- Checking or Savings accounts
- Securities and or Securities Certificates (Stocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, etc.)
- Un-cashed Dividends
- Un-cashed Payroll Checks
- Traveler’s Checks
- Trust Distributions
- Un-redeemed gift certificates or money orders
- Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
- Utility Security Deposits
- Security Deposits from Real Estate leases
- Contents of Safety Deposits
- Insurance Payments and Refunds
- Annuity Payments
How Do you Know if You Have Unclaimed Property
The most surefire way to find out if you have unclaimed property is by researching every State you lived in’s Unclaimed Property website. However, an easier way to look up each state you lived in is by going to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators’ website. When you have found your State, they will simply ask for your full name and city of residence (or prior residence), and results should appear within seconds. Some websites can look up multiples states with one name search, but they tend to leave some assets out of the results. In other words, you might be leaving money on the table because of the website you used!
How Do You Claim Property That is Deemed “Unclaimed Property”
If you find that you have unclaimed property, there is usually a “file a claim” option next to the property in question. From there, you will state what your relationship to the property is (owner, heir, Estate Representative, or Business Representative), enter your personal information such as your date of birth, social security number, etc. and submit your application to the State for processing. You will usually have the option to have the funds deposited electronically. Note that the turn around time is typically 14 days but can vary depending on how many claims you are filing for and the kind of unclaimed property.
Tips on How to Keep your Property from Being Deemed “Unclaimed” or “Abandoned”
- Make sure your contact and banking information is in good order with any financial institution or business you interacted with recently or regularly.
- When you move to a new home, be sure to have your mail forwarded from your old address to your new address.
- When you close a bank or an investment account, log onto your account or call your old institution to see if you had any deposits made after 30-60 days of closing your account.
- If you are expecting to have a security deposit or any similar payment reimbursed, make sure you inform your landlord of your new contact information.
In short, make sure your contact and banking information is up to date at all times!