• Harry N. Stout

163- Finding Cash with Unclaimed Property

Updated: Jan 15


Would you like to find money that you didn’t know you or your family members had? I recently did just that by researching the unclaimed property websites for the states where my family lives or has lived. I found over $1,000 for myself, my daughter and my sister in less than one hour. Let me explain how I did this.

What is Unclaimed Property?

According to the website of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators at unclaimed.org — unclaimed or “abandoned property” refers to property or accounts within financial institutions or companies for which there has been no activity generated (or contact with the owner) for at least one year or longer. After the designated period, the property is classified as unclaimed and must by law be turned over to the state. The state then tries to find the owner and get them the property. Most states do this by creating an easily accessible unclaimed property website that you can search to see if you are owed anything.


If it looks like you are owed money or property, each state has its own list of supporting documentation that you must provide to properly prove that you are the property’s owner. This information could include a copy of your Social Security card, copies of your passport or driver’s license, a prior year tax return or copies of documentation proving you lived in that state. What is required varies depending upon the type of property, who owned it and how it was titled.


Unclaimed property can be intangible, which is the most common (e.g., uncashed paychecks, over paid medical bills, stocks), or tangible (e.g., safe deposit box contents). Some of the common forms of unclaimed property include:

  • Checking or savings accounts

  • Stocks

  • Uncashed dividends or payroll checks

  • Refunds

  • Traveler’s checks

  • Trust distributions

  • Unredeemed money orders or gift certificates (in some states)

  • Certificates of deposit

  • Customer overpayments

  • Utility security deposits

  • Mineral royalty payments

  • Contents of safe deposit boxes

  • Insurance payments or refunds from life insurance policies

  • Annuity benefits

How to Find Your State’s Website

The easiest way I found to find your state’s website was to simply do an internet search for unclaimed property in your state of residence. For my situation, I had recently moved from one state to another so I searched both states. My daughters live in a different state, so I also did a separate search for them where I found several hundred unclaimed dollars from overpaid college fees and some medical bills that had been overpaid. I then decided to do a search for my sister and found property that belonged to her mother-in-law. I called and let her know and they filed to claim the property. I notified all of these people and they then filed the necessary documentation to claim the property. In my case, I completed all the forms online and got my checks within three weeks. For one claim I needed to provide a copy of a state tax return to prove residency. All in all, it was an easy to understand and complete process.

Summary

Today’s post is an easy practical idea that can lead you to find money that you didn’t know was yours or someone in your family. With the success I have had in finding cash for my family I have set up my calendar to do a quick scan of the key state unclaimed property websites for my family members every six months. Who knows you might find a large chunk of cash no one knew about.

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