Finding & Claiming Forgotten Funds

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As a child, you may have dreamed of finding buried treasure, but you probably realized at an early age that it was unlikely you would discover a chest full of pirate booty. However, the possibility that you have unclaimed funds or other assets waiting for you is not a fantasy.

According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administration (NAUPA), $41.7 billion is waiting to be returned by state unclaimed property programs. So how do you find what is owed to you, even if it’s not a fortune?

State unclaimed property programs
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 one year or longer (such as when the account has been inactive). It then becomes the state’s responsibility to locate the owner. State-held property generally can be claimed in perpetuity by original owners and heirs.

For state programs, unclaimed property might include the following:

  • Financial accounts
  • Stocks
  • Uncashed dividend or payroll checks
  • Utility deposits
  • Insurance payments and policies
  • Trust distributions
  • Mineral royalty payments
  • Contents of safe-deposit boxes

To see whether you have unclaimed assets, you may have to search your state’s database and the databases of states where you formerly lived or worked. It’s possible that funds or assets are still waiting for you even if you moved away years ago. Fortunately, most states participate in a national database that you can search for free at www.missingmoney.com

Federal unclaimed property programs
The federal government also tracks unclaimed property, including:

  • 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
  • Unredeemed savings bonds that are no longer earning interest

Unlike states, the federal government does not have a central website for finding unclaimed money or assets, so you’ll need to check a number of sources, including one of the biggest sources of unclaimed funds — the IRS — at www.irs.gov. To find out more about other federal programs that may hold unclaimed property, visit the NAUPA website at www.unclaimed.org.

Submitting a claim
To claim property, follow the instructions given, which will vary by the type of asset and where the property is held. You’ll need to verify ownership, typically by providing information about yourself (such as your Social Security number and proof of address), and submit a claim form either online or by mail.

What if the listed property owner is deceased? A claim may be made by a survivor and will be payable according to state or federal law. For life insurance, you may need the full name and Social Security number of the deceased individual, a copy of the death certificate and in some cases, proof that you were the named beneficiary.

“Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2016.”

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