What is Unclaimed Property?
Unclaimed property can include:
What Happens To Unclaimed Property?
Dormant Savings and Checking Accounts and Certificates of Deposit
Safe Deposit Box Contents
Uncashed Money Orders, Cashiers Checks, and Travelers Checks
Uncashed Payroll Checks
Unused Gift Certificates
Oil and Gas Royalty Payments
Uncashed Stock and Mutual Fund Dividends
Mineral Royalty Payments
Unclaimed Security Deposits
Customer Deposits, Overpayments, Credit Balances, and Refunds
Probate Court Judgments
Property Overlooked in the Probate of an Estate
Paid Up Life Insurance Policies
Uncashed Death Benefit Checks and Life Insurance Proceeds
Health and Accident Insurance Payments
Every state has unclaimed property laws which declare money, property, and other assets to be abandoned after a period of inactivity of three to five years. During this abandonment period landlords, banks, utilities, hospitals, brokerage firms, mutual funds, insurance companies, and other organizations are required to try to return the valuables to their rightful owners. If they are unsuccessful, they then turn the property over to the state's abandoned-property division or unclaimed property office.
According to a US Supreme Court decision (Texas vs. New Jersey, 379 US 674, 1965), the unclaimed property is returned to the state of the property owner's last known address. If no address is known, it is returned to the state in which the business holding the funds is incorporated.
The unclaimed property office then tries to find the rightful owners, by placing advertisements in newspapers and trying to trace the owners. Unfortunately, many states only advertise the new additions to their files.
There is no time limit on claiming your property. Abandoned property has been reunited with its rightful owners 30, 40, and even 50 years after it was turned over to the state. Some states have unclaimed property dating to the late 1800s. (A few states have started setting time limits, but in most cases a tracer that talks about statute of limitations is trying to create a false sense of urgency.)
If the owner of the property is deceased, the relatives can file for the unclaimed property.