Are You Overlooking Your Unclaimed Money?

Millions of dollars in unclaimed property and money are waiting to be claimed by their rightful owners. Many people don’t realize they have forgotten bank accounts, uncashed checks, or insurance payments. After a period of inactivity, these assets are transferred to the state for safekeeping. Surprisingly, about one in ten Americans have unclaimed property. This guide will help you understand unclaimed property, why it happens, and how you can search for any assets that might belong to you.

Understanding Unclaimed Assets and Money

Unclaimed property and money are assets people have forgotten about or lost. These include bank accounts, insurance payments, and more. After a period of inactivity, the state takes over these assets until the rightful owner claims them. About one in seven Americans have unclaimed money or property waiting for them. This means you might have unclaimed assets in your name. It’s important to check this quickly because it’s possible for your unclaimed properties to be turned over to the state!

Types of Unclaimed Property

Unclaimed property can be either physical items or financial assets. Physical items include things like jewelry, collectibles, and furniture that might be left in a safe deposit box or storage unit. Financial assets, also called intangible properties, include money from inactive bank accounts, uncashed checks, insurance policies, and utility deposits. These financial assets are the most common types of unclaimed property.

Why Property Becomes Unclaimed

Property often ends up in the unclaimed property program for several reasons. People move and forget to update their address with banks or employers, causing money to be lost. Sometimes, people pass away without leaving clear instructions about their assets. Typically people are unaware they have money or property owed to them. They might have forgotten about an old bank account, never received a final paycheck, or were named as a beneficiary in a life insurance policy they weren’t aware of.

How to Search for Unclaimed Property

Now that you understand unclaimed property and why it happens, you might wonder how to search for any unclaimed funds that belong to you. The good news is, the process is simple and free. Each state has its own unclaimed property program and keeps a database of unclaimed assets. You can search these databases online. Start by visiting your state’s official unclaimed property website.

Using State Search Engines

When you visit your state’s official unclaimed property website, you’ll find a search engine. You can expect to enter your name and any previous addresses. The search will look through the state’s database for any unclaimed property that matches your details. Make sure to search in every state where you’ve lived, worked, or done business. If you find a match, the website will guide you on how to submit a claim to get your property back.

NAUPA’s Search Tool

In addition to searching your state’s database, you can also use the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) search tool. This tool allows you to search for unclaimed property across multiple states at once. While the NAUPA search is a great starting point, it’s still recommended to follow up with a search on each individual state’s website. Not all states participate in the NAUPA database, and some may have additional or more up-to-date information on their own sites.

Steps to Reclaim Your Unclaimed Property

If your search turns up unclaimed property in your name, the next step is to file a claim to retrieve it. Don’t worry, this process is completely free. You should never have to pay to claim your own money or property. The exact claim process varies by state, but generally, you’ll need to submit a claim form along with documentation proving your identity and your right to the property. This may include a copy of your driver’s license, social security card, or proof of past addresses.

Preventing Your Property from Becoming Unclaimed

While it’s great to know you can search for and claim any lost assets, it’s even better to prevent your property from becoming unclaimed in the first place. The key is to keep your accounts active and your contact information current.

Make sure to regularly review and update your account information, especially after a move or a major life change. Cash any checks promptly, and if you have any unclaimed property, take action to claim it before it’s turned over to the state.

A little bit of proactivity goes a long way in keeping accounts active and maintaining contact information. By staying on top of your finances and keeping good records, you can try to ensure that your hard-earned money and cherished possessions stay where they belong. However, there are some instances where it’s out of your control!

Overall

Unclaimed property and money are more common than many realize, and claiming these assets is often straightforward and free. By understanding what unclaimed property is and why it happens, you can take the necessary steps to find and reclaim any assets that might belong to you. Regularly checking and updating your account information, especially after major life changes, can help prevent your property from becoming unclaimed. Stay proactive with your finances to try and make sure your assets remain with you.