(AscendHealthy.com) – Many people dream of winning the lottery. Maybe the next best thing would be finding money they’d forgotten or never knew they had. It might sound like the setup to a joke or the come-on to a scam, but unclaimed money might be out there waiting for you!
According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), about 10% of the population might have missing assets, including cash, waiting for them. With the fast pace of modern life, it’s no wonder people sometimes lose track of their valuables, especially when they’re in seldom-used accounts. What is this unclaimed money, where did it come from, where did it go, and how can people reclaim it?
What Is Unclaimed Money?
Any payment a person should have received but didn’t qualifies as unclaimed money. There could be dozens of reasons funds that legitimately belong to people became separated from them or possibly never made it to them. Time and circumstances conspired to separate people from their funds.
Still, by law, businesses can’t keep funds that don’t belong to them. Most companies hold funds for a dormancy period, usually a year, during which people can claim the money from them, or they may continue trying to locate the rightful owners. If all attempts to return the funds during the dormancy period faiI, a company must turn over the funds and any records regarding ownership to the state government where they operate. Most states hold the funds in trust, waiting for someone to claim them. A few states might limit how many years they keep money before assigning it to some state fund.
How Did the Money Become Unclaimed?
As previously mentioned, several sources contribute to the creation of unclaimed founds. A few include:
- Insurance Refunds
- Traveler’s Checks
- Uncashed Payroll Checks
- Customer Overpayments
- Utility Security Deposits
- Checking Accounts
- Savings Accounts
- Contents of Safe Deposit Boxes
- Insurance Payments
- Certificates of Deposit
- Trust Distributions
- Uncashed Dividends
- Mineral Royalty Payments
- Unredeemed Money Orders or Gift Certificates (Only in Some States)
While most “lost” property is money, safe deposit boxes sometimes go unclaimed, leaving valuable tangible assets waiting for a claimant.
Locating Unclaimed Money
NAUPA has created a simple, easy-to-use search tool to help people find their unclaimed assets by searching multiple states simultaneously. Alternatively, individuals would need to search each state’s database manually. The NAUPA search tool can save time. Searchers may still want to check these additional databases:
- Treasury Hunt: Unclaimed US Securities and Payments Shares
- US Courts: Unclaimed Funds in Bankruptcy
- Credit Union Unclaimed
- HUD/FHA Mortgage Insurance Refunds
After locating the property, it’s time to begin the claims process to recover the assets.
Staking a Claim
Knowing about unclaimed assets is more than half the battle. Still, searchers need to claim the property and prove their identity. Each state has procedures, but it all begins by initiating a claim. Often, searchers can do this online as part of the property search process.
Next, the state may ask for proof of identity and ownership by requesting a few documents. After submitting the claim and requested documentation, the state verifies and processes the information, which might take 30 or more days. Once the state completes the claims process, it will issue a check for the amount of your unclaimed property.
Keeping Money From Becoming Lost
The process of reclaiming money is relatively easy but time-consuming. To avoid having or searching for unclaimed money, consider the following three tips:
1. Keep Accounts Alive — Keep a record of all checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit. Try to make monthly or bi-monthly deposits or withdrawals to maintain account activity.
2. Update Information Regularly — Make it a habit to review contact information on all accounts every six months. Consider updating old employers when changing addresses in addition to friends, family, and financial contacts.
3. Maintain Records — Keep records of all financial transactions and assets. That way, as time and circumstances whiz by at the speed of life, there will be a record of accounts to help keep track of everything, and hopefully, nothing becomes lost along the way.
Finding unclaimed money can seem like a windfall until folks realize their money was lost and not doing them any good for all that time. Fortunately, there are ways to find and claim the missing money waiting for them. Checking periodically for unclaimed funds is quick and could net a pretty penny. Why not check today?
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