The idea of finding buried treasure or receiving an inheritance from a long-lost relative is a staple of fantasies and adventure stories. Though finding treasure is unlikely, discovering “lost” money or other assets from a relative, a business, or a government agency may not be a fantasy after all. The Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization estimates that more than $1 billion is abandoned every year.
Every state has an unclaimed property program that requires companies and financial institutions to turn account assets over to the state if they have lost contact with the rightful owner for more than one year, such as when the account has been inactive. It then becomes the state’s responsibility to locate the owner of the lost money.
For state programs, the unclaimed property might include financial accounts, stocks, uncashed dividend or payroll checks, utility deposits, insurance payments and policies, trust distributions, mineral royalty payments, and the contents of safe-deposit boxes. State-held property generally can be claimed in perpetuity by original owners and heirs.
To determine whether you have unclaimed assets, you may have to search the database for each state where you have lived, but most states participate in a free national database called Missing Money. For more information, please see the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators at Unclaimed.org.
Unclaimed property held by federal agencies might include tax refunds, pension funds, funds from failed banks and credit unions, funds owed investors from U.S. SEC enforcement cases, refunds from FHA-insured mortgages, and unredeemed savings bonds that are no longer earning interest. The federal government does not have a centralized database, but there are databases for different federal agencies. To find out more, visit usa.gov/unclaimed-money.
Proceed with Care
Finding and receiving any unclaimed property to which you are entitled should not cost you money. Legitimate companies may be paid to locate rightful owners or offer to help rightful owners obtain property for a fee. You do not need to pay them to receive the property. Be on the lookout for scammers who claim to have a property to obtain other information about you or your finances.
1) Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization, 2016.
The information in this article is not intended as tax or legal advice. It may not be relied on to avoid any federal tax penalties. You are encouraged to seek tax or legal advice from an independent professional advisor.
The content is derived from sources believed to be accurate. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for any security purchase or sale. This material was written and prepared by Emerald. Copyright 2016 Emerald Connect, LLC.