Escheatment (Unclaimed/Abandoned Property)
What happens when you lose or forget to cash a check?
Did you accidentally forget about an old insurance policy or bank account?
Maybe you bought investment property years ago?
Did you know you can easily lose your assets due to state Escheatment Laws if your property is classified as abandoned?
Most importantly, did you know you can get it back?
According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA):
- 2.5 million claims totaling $2.25 billion returned to rightful owners in 2011 as a result of state unclaimed property program efforts. Amount of average claim was $892.
- $41.7 billion is waiting to be returned by state unclaimed property programs.
- Claims can be made into perpetuity in most cases – even by heirs.
- See Unclaimed.org for additional information.
After a certain amount of time passes, your lost assets are classified as abandoned and the payee (employer, bank, corporation, investment firm, etc.) is required to turn that unclaimed property over to the state. Each of the 50 states has separate Escheatment laws dictating how to treat the different types of unclaimed property – payroll and other checks, insurance, banking and investment accounts, etc.
Your next step is to go to your specific state’s Treasury site. (For example, in New Jersey you will be led to www.unclaimedproperty.nj.gov/). Many of the state sites then point you to a national service, www.missingmoney.com, where all participating states can be searched at once. Start by only entering your last name, or maybe your maiden name. You, or a relation may be in for a pleasant surprise. One day I went there to show my friend, and sure enough, there was a check listed under a prior address.
One way to avoid loss or misplacement is to organize your property. In MyLegacyBackup Case Studies , there is reference to recovering an aging aunt’s bank books valued at $150,000. If you do nothing else, at least prepare a basic list manually, and let your family know the location. But clearly, a subscription to MyLegacyBackup will help.