What is Unclaimed Money
First, it is important to understand that not all unclaimed money is actually cash. There are actually various types of unclaimed assets that are comprised of tangible property as well as other forms of financial assets such as securities, bonds, etc. and property. The most common reason that such assets are never claimed is that people either forgot about them or never knew they had the money coming to them. This often happens when someone moves and they fail to leave a forwarding address. When this happens and they have money that is owed to them the original business has no way of getting the money to them.
There can be varying sources of unclaimed money, including money from insurance policies, utility refunds, forgotten checking or savings accounts, dividends, stocks, bonds, interest, unclaimed property and much more. In some cases, people sometimes leave money and other assets in safety deposit boxes and then forget about them. Unclaimed, or missing money can also arise as a result of tax refunds that cannot be delivered or even retirement and pension funds that cannot be delivered for some reason. Each year, the IRS has numerous tax refund checks that are returned as being undeliverable.
Regardless of what the reason might happen to be, whenever a business, organization or governmental agency cannot locate the rightful owner for money or assets something must be done with that property. In most states there are laws that dictate how long the organization or business may hold the money for the rightful owner before they must turn over the assets to the state. This is typically a period of three to five years. From that point, the state then becomes responsible for holding onto the assets until the rightful owner or the heirs of the rightful owner step forward to make a claim.
In some instances, unclaimed government money is actually held by the federal government. This is the case with U.S. Savings Bonds. There are actually millions of dollars in U.S. Savings Bonds that have never been claimed since they matured and stopped earning interest. To help facilitate the process of seeing that the rightful owners receive the money due them, the U.S. government has established a website specifically for the purpose of helping people find out whether any of those bonds belong to them. Any unclaimed U.S. Savings bonds issued after 1974 are listed on the site and can be searched for by the social security number of the owner. The U.S. Treasury also has information about bonds purchased prior to 1974; however, information on unclaimed government money for bonds purchased before that date require an in-person inquiry.
In other cases unclaimed funds arise as a result of pension funds or retirement accounts that are never claimed. Many times people make the mistake of thinking that because a company goes out of business they do not have any retirement benefits coming to them. As a result, these unclaimed funds continue to languish in an unclaimed property account.
When searching trying to find unclaimed money and unclaimed property it is important to check regularly as the laws regarding what happens to unclaimed assets vary from state to state. Some states keep unclaimed property indefinitely; however, in other states property will be auctioned and the funds deposited in a general fund after a period of time. The money or property can no longer be claimed after that period of time has elapsed, so if you think you may have unclaimed money or unclaimed property it is important to conduct a diligent search.