Lots of people are unaware that they may be due unclaimed money. Perhaps it’s an inheritance or insurance payment you were never aware that you had coming. Just as likely, it may be an old reimbursement check that you forgot about or a tax refund for which you never filed a return. Whatever the case, if you don’t know about the money, you’re not going to claim it.
Unfortunately, many of us have money due to us that we don’t even know about. In fact, the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators reported in April 2017 that over $42 billion of unclaimed funds were due to consumers. That’s a staggering amount of unclaimed money out there!
Fortunately, there are several ways to go about searching for and claiming this money, if it belongs to you. Before discussing the ways to search for unclaimed money, however, it’s important to understand exactly what unclaimed money is, how it comes about, and why it remains unclaimed.
What is Unclaimed Money?
Unclaimed money is financial assets that are considered abandoned after a certain period of time. The reason money becomes unclaimed is often due to owners forgetting about their assets, moving from their original registered address, or not having current contact information to receive any contact from financial institutions.
Unclaimed money can come in many forms, such as forgotten bank accounts, forgotten stocks, uncashed checks, or unclaimed tax refunds. It could also be assets with a value, such as pension deposits, insurance payouts, or inheritance money. The amount of unclaimed money in the U.S. is estimated to be as large as $58 billion.
Why is Money Left Unclaimed?
The most common reasons why money is left unclaimed is because the owner of the money has moved on or has forgotten about the money. In some cases, the owner has died with no heirs, leaving the property unclaimed. It’s also common for the owner to forget to cash a check or to not have current contact information for a financial institution.
In the case of a bank account, for example, the account may be deemed “inactive” after a certain period of time. This is true for both savings accounts as well as checking accounts. After a certain period of time—often three years, but the length of time varies by bank—the bank will consider the account to be “dormant.”
At this point, the bank may try to contact the owner of the account to make them aware of the dormant account, but if they are unable to do so, the account will become unclaimed. Likewise, if a person deposited a check, but never cashed it, that check—and the money owed to them—becomes unclaimed.
Likewise, things such as insurance payments, tax refunds, stocks, and inheritances can become unclaimed if the owner cannot be contacted or the proper paperwork is not filed. It’s important to note that unclaimed money is not the same as a long-lost asset. Unclaimed money and assets are not the same thing; they are merely two types of abandoned financial property.
How to Find Unclaimed Money
Fortunately, finding out if you have unclaimed money is easy. There are several online resources and search tools that you can use to quickly and easily search for your unclaimed funds.
The most reliable way to search for unclaimed money is by using the Unclaimed.org website, which is operated by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA). This website is a consortium of state government websites and is the single most comprehensive source of information on unclaimed money in the U.S.
On the Unclaimed.org website, you can search for unclaimed money across all 50 states and U.S. territories. All you need to do is enter your name and last known address, and the website will search through the records of all state unclaimed property offices.
Similarly, MissingMoney.com is another website that allows you to search for unclaimed money. This website is operated by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators and is also linked to all state unclaimed property offices.
You can also try searching for unclaimed money through state government websites. Each state has its own website that is interconnected with the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, so you can search for unclaimed property in each state using the respective state’s website.
Finally, if you are searching for unclaimed inheritances, you can look through the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s unclaimed money list. This list is updated on a regular basis and includes inheritance money that has not been claimed.
Claiming Your Money
Once you have located the money that is due to you, the next step is to claim it. The process of claiming unclaimed money is generally straightforward and involves filling out some paperwork and providing proof of your identity.
The first step is to contact the state agency where the money is being held. The state agency may require you to provide proof of your identity and other information in order to verify that you are the rightful owner of the money.
Once your identity is verified, the state agency will issue a check or will provide instructions on how the money can be claimed. In the case of a forgotten bank account or stock, the bank or brokerage firm may issue a check or will transfer the money directly to your bank account.
In any case, it’s important to be aware that most claims for unclaimed money must be made within a certain time period. Generally, this time period is five years, but this can vary by state.
If you think you may have unclaimed money due to you, it’s definitely worth taking the time to search for it. As you can see, there are several resources available that can help you in your search. Furthermore, the process of claiming the money due to you can be quite straightforward and easy.
Getting unclaimed money returned to you can make a big difference in your financial life. So, take a few minutes to search for any unclaimed money that may be due to you—you never know what you might find!