Locate Unclaimed Assets that May Belong to You

By Lee Bellinger / January 3, 2014

Tens of billions of dollars worth of assets owed to individuals by banks, brokerages, insurance companies, and other institutions are waiting to be claimed. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) reports that $41.7 billion worth of unclaimed property is sitting in state government offices, waiting to be returned to the rightful owners.

“Unclaimed property,” according to NAUPA, “refers to accounts in financial institutions and companies that have had no activity generated or contact with the owner for one year or a longer period. Common forms of unclaimed property include savings or checking accounts, stocks, uncashed dividends or payroll checks, refunds, traveler’s checks, trust distributions, unredeemed money orders or gift certificates (in some states), insurance payments or refunds and life insurance policies, annuities, certificates of deposit, customer overpayments, utility security deposits, mineral royalty payments, and contents of safe deposit boxes.”

Perhaps you, a parent, or other family member are due funds you had long forgotten about or never been aware of for whatever reason. It doesn’t hurt to search. You can do so for free through the Unclaimed Property Clearinghouse databases, which are accessible online. Point your web browser to:

www.missingmoney.com

www.unclaimed.org

Be sure to search not only your current state of residence, but states where you’ve resided in the past, as well.

Prevent Your Assets from Being Seized by the State

To avoid losing track of your assets in the first place, keep good tabs on all your accounts and all your physical possessions. Make sure all your contact information is current with all institutions you do business with. And if you have a safedeposit box at a bank, open it at least once a year. In some states, such as California, safe-deposit box contents can be turned over to the government (sometimes mistakenly) and sold at auction a mere 18 months later if they go unclaimed.