Every year billions of US dollars goes silently unclaimed across the country. This is considered unclaimed property and is a very common occurrence, it can happen to the best of us!
Unclaimed property can be defined as any property, asset or funds that are owed to you, but due to your movement or life changes the party responsible for giving it to you unable to.
Thus according to US policy, the property must be returned to the state’s treasury in wait for the rightful owner’s claim. So don’t worry, if you’ve forgotten or were unaware of any property owed to you, it will be waiting for you to claim it!
This is way more common than you might think, let us explain.
Let’s say you’re moving. You’re all packed up and on your way to your new home, naturally you will leave your new forwarding address with your bank, your company and perhaps any other subscriptions you might have, however it may not occur to you to give your address to your previous landlord.
I mean why would you? Although now let’s fast forward a few months, your previous landlord wants to return the deposit that you paid, however they have no contact information to get it to you? What do they do? They give the money to the state’s treasury to return to you when you make a claim.
Kind of like the “Lost and Found” section of a mall, or school. Instead of the “finder” keeping the “treasure” they give it to a safe place to be found by the true owner.
This example might help create a picture, but it’s not only type of unclaimed funds or property that you could look for.
The thing is unclaimed property can come in many different forms, some that you might not have even thought of. The state’s treasury has been designed to handle a wide range of differing types of property or assets that are left unclaimed.
In many instances when you search for unclaimed property it will indicate to you the type of claim that you are eligible for. However we understand that trying to even approach this task might seem overwhelming at first.
You might be curious and wandering what kind of unclaimed property is sitting waiting for you, but have no idea of what.
Of course we understand that, so here are some common types of unclaimed property that the NAUPA (National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators) reports to be present in every state each year:
1 Checking/savings accounts
This can easily happen if you move around a lot and have multiple accounts. Somewhere along the line you might have had a savings account of some sort. Once you moved on the bank wouldn’t have any way of contacting you.
2 Insurance Policies
If a family member or loved one passes on, it often occurs that there was a life insurance policy in place for that person, that you as next of kin might not have known about.
If an insurance company does not receive a claim for the policy after death they will turn the property over to the state. Thus allowing you to search for the claim under the name of your loved one or family member, at their registered place of residence.
With the necessary documentation you can claim that property into their estate to then be distributed as said by the last will and testament.
3 Uncashed dividends/payroll checks
Life happens sometimes that can lead us to lose track of some uncashed checks of any nature. This can happen to the best of us, however you should never see this as a loss! You could definitely still cash in on your owes due to you.
Any cashless payments that are not received by the intended person will be sent to the state treasury so that you can claim it later Trust distributions.
If someone that you know has left money behind in their trusts, or perhaps a trust you once invested in was dissolved to be paid out to you and no-one was able to find or contact you in order to notify you of this, chances are its sitting in unclaimed property in the state of payment.
4 Utility royalty payments
Any kind of royalty fee that someone owes you could be being reported to that state’s treasury if there is no way of contacting you or tracking you down. A royalty fee is a nominal fund owed to you when someone or some company uses any sort of intelligible property of yours.
5 Contents of safe deposit accounts
This in essence is like a little treasure hunt. It often happens where people leave behind safety deposit boxes filled with valuable items, or perhaps its one you opened and completely forgot about. Any property that exists in that box that can’t be returned to its owner will be handed over to the state treasury to be claimed.
This might seem like a rare case but it happens where someone might have left you physical property such as a house, piece of land, car, or even boat.
Care for a vacation anyone? If the estate has no way of contacting you, they will report this unclaimed property to the state treasury for further opportunity to be claimed.
These are just some examples of the common types of claims that are made and we’re sure that it may seem intimidating to even think about where to start looking for any of the above but we’ve got you covered.
Making a claim for property that is owed to you is really not as complicated as you might think! You could be a few clicks away from being wealthier than you were the day before. Let’s have a look at some of the ways to find unclaimed property;
In order to look efficiently its best to approach your search in an upside down funnel manner. Start local and expand.
That’s why we recommend starting your search in your state first, or at least any states that you have lived before going national. Each state has their very own treasury site where you can search specials for any unpaid funds due to you.
Of course each treasury’s website is slightly different however the basics are similar. Follow the next few steps to conduct your state search;
- Type in the google search the name of your state followed by unclaimed property, for example if you are in California you can search “California Unclaimed Property”.
- In the google results you will find the state treasury website. This site must be followed by ( .gov ) for it to be legit. In this example it would be sco.ca.gov . Click on it.
- Once you’ve been directed to this site you will see the option to click on “search for unclaimed property”
- You will be directed to a page where you are asked to insert your first, middle and last name as well as the city.
- You will be directed to the results page where you can see if you have any unclaimed property. You will find your name, your address, ID number and the type of claim that you’re eligible for.
Nationwide claim search
Okay, now let’s say you’re an avid traveler around the country, or have done a lot of business around the country, its going to be a little time consuming to individually search for your property on each state’s treasury site.
So let’s have a look as searching nationwide for your property. To do this we recommend using missingmoney.com. This site is run by the NAUPA – the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.
missingmoney.com essentially organises and consolidates all the information from the individual state treasury sites into one search engine. Making your search much easier!
Using missingmoney.com can be very simple:
- Enter your name where indicated.
- You will be taken to a second page where you can enter your name, the city and state where you would like to search.
- Then you will be taken to the results page, here you can find your name if a claim has been reported. On this page you will be able to see your name, the address of yours that the company had, the company that reported the unclaimed property and whether its above $100, below $100 or if the amount is unknown.
- Once you have found a claim in your name you can then click the claim button. This will add the claim to your cart/basket. This thus allows you to apply for multiple claims at once.
- You will then be prompted to verify your identification, this will most likely be done by providing your social security number. Also by using a document to prove that you previously lived in that residential address.
- Finally your claim will be processed!
If you would prefer to do an individual search on your own, but don’t want to do a google search for each state using unclaimed.org is extremely useful.
This site is directly run by the NAUPA, that gives you all the information you need about unclaimed property, and gives you the tools to choose any state around the country, this then automatically redirects you to the state’s treasury site. If you would like to conduct a search on this site you can follow these steps.
- Click on the prompt to “Find your missing money”
- Scroll down and choose your state on the map.
- You will then be taken to that state’s treasury website.
Just a tip! Don’t forget that on occasion your name might be misspelt by the company that reports the claim, if you have a commonly misspelt name play around with the various spellings just to be doubly sure.
Remember that any assistance given to you to claim property, assets or funds in your name should be completely free.
There are many companies out there that claim they can offer assistance in helping you acquire what is owed to you at a fee.
This is completely unnecessary as it is a state service to allow you access to claim what is rightfully yours.