Unless you won the lottery this week you would probably be excited to find money owed to you. Unclaimed money and property in excess of $25 Billion is being held by the government and is just waiting to be claimed.
You may be thinking, ‘I have never forgotten about money owed to me’, this may be true, but what about the monies you are not aware of? i.e. an inheritance or savings bond. Oprah Winfrey stated 9 out of 10 Americans have unclaimed money.
So why is this money just sitting around? Chances are you haven’t heard about unclaimed money, there is a lack public awareness and no simple method for searching and claiming lost funds.
The most common types of Unclaimed Property are:
Savings and checking accounts and safe deposit box contents
Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends
Uncashed cashier’s checks or money orders
Wages, child support payments
Matured or terminated insurance policies
Mineral interests and royalty payments, trust funds, and escrow accounts
The list goes on and on…
One of the most impressive unclaimed items is a 88-carat natural blue sapphire ring valued at over $25,000! Recently a widow found over $50,000 owed to her from an account her deceased husband had opened that she was not even aware existed.
The property ends up in government accounts due to laws requiring the property to be turned over to the state or other governing agency after a period of approximately 3 years without contact from the owner.
Oftentimes the owner moves and does not leave a forwarding address or forgets that the account exists. In some cases, the owner dies and the heirs have no knowledge of the property.
The amount of unclaimed cash is growing. It has almost doubled the 15.8 billion in lost funds recorded in 2000. The increase is not only due to public awareness but also attributed to each state recording the money in individual databases.
Finding Your Unclaimed Money
So how do you search and find money owed to you? Each state has its own database but it is not enough to search only the state where you reside. If you have conducted business with companies outside the state, the funds may be reported in the state where the business was located. Also, a state search will not locate missing money in 90 federal databases. This makes searching difficult because you may have unclaimed cash in a state in which you have never lived.
You also need to search variations of your name. For example, if your name is Michael James Anderson an account might be under M Anderson, M J Anderson, or Michael Anderson.
This can be a time consuming and tedious process to locate and search over 120 databases. The most comprehensive government site only incorporates 14 states into its database. This search would still produce incomplete results and you may miss money owed to you.
Comprehensive Unclaimed Money Searches
It is worth the small fee to utilize a private site that has compiled all state and government databases.
After you have completed your search by name you will be given results from the database. It may contain multiple records, some of which are not yours. The record will normally have details on the property, the value, institution the funds originated from, owner address, etc. You should be able to tell which accounts are yours from a quick look at these details.
What to do when you find the money
After locating your missing money follow the directions to submit the claim. The claim process varies slightly depending on the type of account or state of claim. Usually the claim consists of filling out and sending a form or affidavit and copies of identification or documents relating to the account.
Through continued efforts to educate the public on the topic of unclaimed money more and more Americans are finding their lost funds. Over $1 Billion was returned last year. It is likely you or your immediate family members have unclaimed money or property. Now that you are aware it exists and know how to find and claim it, you can search for what is owed to you!