What is the definition of unclaimed property?
Some examples of unclaimed property are dividends, insurance refunds or payments,savings and checking accounts, un-cashed checks, securities , utility refunds/ deposits, oil royalties, wages, utility refunds/ deposits, bail bonds, and child support payments.
How does unclaimed money end up in the hands of states?
Each state regulates unclaimed money as a service to the citizens of its state. The citizens of a state benefit from interest earned on funds held by the state and a place to look for lost funds. The state guarantees that this money will be held until claimed by the rightful owner (this may be forever). The states do make an effort to find the owners.
What is a Holder?
Holders may include state and local governments, banks, clinics, businesses, retailers, insurance companies, oil and gas companies, hospitals and so forth. Holders must, after a predetermined period of inactivity, turn unclaimed property over to the state of the owner's last know address.
What is Escheat?
The remittance of abandoned/unclaimed properties to the state of an owner's last known address after the predefined dormancy/abandonment period, as defined by law, has lapsed.
What is a Warrant?
Un-cashed check issued by state agencies or departments.
What is Demutualization?
Demutualization refers to a reorganization, in which a mutual insurance company becomes a stock company. This is accomplished through the payment of stock or cash to policyholders upon the discontinuation of the mutual company.
When must Holders turn unclaimed property over to the state?
They must do so when there has been no owner activity for a predetermined period of time.
How long is unclaimed property held?
Once the funds are turned over to states they are held until the owner can be found in most states.
How do I claim my money?
Each state will have specific procedures and requirements. Usually the proper forms and instructions are available online or may be requested online. By carefully following instructions you can expect to claim your money with little delay and at little or no cost to you.
How long will it take to get my money?
The time required will vary with the state involved. However states will attempt to process claims in a timely manner. Providing sufficient and proper ownership documentation will expedite processing.
How do I find unclaimed insurance benefits?
Unfortunately there is no central database for unclaimed insurance benefits and demutualization. Since in many cases the death of a policyholder results only in the cessation of payments and no death notice is received by the insurance company, the escheat laws may not apply. Of course, if the insurance company is aware of the death then the escheat laws should apply and the asset should end up in a state database. A few insurance companies do provide search facilities on line and some of those can be found on our links page. See our Insurance page for help.
A service contacted me and told me I have unclaimed property. Why can't I find it when I search?
Services called "heir finders" sometimes contact people about "unclaimed funds". Often they will offer their services at fees ranging up to 50%. You should first try searching state, federal, and private databases. It is possible that these heir finders have knowledge not available in databases accessible by consumers.
What advantages might a "pay to search" service offer?
Not all unclaimed assets are in state and federal databases. Most likely, all will end up there, but in the mean time several delays may occur. Some states, after publishing an annual list of new names added to their database, will wait up to a year to add those names to their online database. Pay to search services, at least the better ones, will have these names in their database. In addition, many companies holding unclaimed property will attempt to locate owners long before the unclaimed money is required to be turned over to government departments. This "pre-escheat" property will find it's way into various databases not available to the public. Finally, when a claim is made for property listed in online databases, some states block access until it is determined if the rightful owner has filed the claim. Given that there are millions of duplicate names, the listings are possibly not available for some time.
Many consumers want to make sure that all possible ground is covered in their search, especially those who may suspect that a large amount of unclaimed money is waiting for them.
What if the owner is deceased?
Procedures vary by state but generally you will be asked to provide documents showing you are the rightful heir. Follow the states instructions to provide documents such as death certificates or proof of a connection to the last know address.
What if I can't print out the forms from my computer?
Many states provide an online request for forms to be mailed to you. All states provide an address where you may write to request information and forms.