Unclaimed Money in California
Have you ever wondered if some of the millions of dollars in unclaimed money in California might belong to you? Each year, the state of California takes in approximately $300 million. If you or someone you know is or has been a resident of California or if you have ever had any type of business dealings in the state of California, it can certainly be worth it to find out whether some of that money might be yours.
According to the law regarding unclaimed property in California, known as escheat law, any assets that are abandoned is handed over to the state treasurer department if the rightful owners do not claim those assets within a specified period of time. Unclaimed assets can include mineral deposits, cash and stock dividends, savings and checking accounts, uncashed checks, money orders, salary checks, unclaimed tax refunds, gift certificates and more. While the dormancy period can range from one state to another, in the state of California that time period is three years.
If the rightful owners do not come forward within three years, their California unclaimed assets will then be handed over to the unclaimed property division in California. At that point, the assets will remain in the general fund until they can be returned to the rightful owner. There are many reasons why it is often difficult to locate the proper owners, but the primary reason is that they simply cannot be located. Many times people move and forget to leave a forwarding address. In total, the state of California has more than $5.5 billion in unclaimed property and money. There are more than 11 million individuals and organizations to which California unclaimed money is owed at this current time.
Original owners or their heirs can make a claim for property from California without incurring any costs. If you choose to be represented by an asset locator or investigator you should be aware that under California state law investigators may not charge a fee that exceeds 10% of the total value of the property or assets. While you can certainly choose to hire someone to represent you, it is also important to know that you can make a claim directly by simply going to the Controller’s website at www.sco.ca.go/upd
To make a claim for California unclaimed money you will need to complete and send in a signed Claim Affirmation Form along with required documentation. Due to the fact that many people do have the same name and businesses that turn in assets do not always provide sufficient information regarding the owner in order to verify ownership, additional documentation may be required. If the original owner of the property or money is deceased and there was no trust or will, the state is required to distribute property based on California’s Probate Code.
The type of documentation that will be required will be based on the type of claim made and whether you are the original owner of the property or whether you are an heir. It should be noted that for all claims of $1,000 or greater signatures must be notarized on all claims forms. In addition, all claims for safe deposit boxes and securities will also required notarized signatures.
As a result of the large volume of claims for unclaimed money in California, the state is allowed up to 180 days from the date a claim form is received to make a determination regarding the claim. Claims that only involve cash may be processed in 60 days or less. For more complex claims, you should anticipate up to 180 days for your claim to be approved and processed. You can always check the status of your claim for California unclaimed money on the state’s online system. You should allow up to 30 days from the date your claim was mailed in before checking your claim’s status.