You’re busy juggling multiple responsibilities, and sometimes things slip through the cracks. From missed appointments to forgotten mail, it’s easy to overlook assets that are rightfully yours. If you don’t claim them within a specific timeframe, they’re turned over to the state as unclaimed property. But don’t worry, if you think you might be owed something, there are steps you can take to find out.
What Is Unclaimed Property?
Unclaimed property refers to any financial asset that has gone unclaimed for a certain period of time. The amount of time varies depending on the jurisdiction, but if you don’t claim it, the state will. Some examples of unclaimed property include:
- Safety deposit box contents
- Unclaimed insurance payments and refunds
- Royalties from unclaimed intellectual property
- Unclaimed annuities
- Unclaimed stocks and dividends
- Unclaimed utility deposits
- Unredeemed money orders
- Trusts without an owner
In essence, anything of financial value can qualify as unclaimed property, so it’s important to know what happens if you forget to claim it.
How Do You Know If You’re Owed Unclaimed Property?
Each state has a database where you can search for unclaimed property. To access it, you’ll need to provide basic information like your name, address, and family relationships. The more information you provide, the easier it will be for the state to determine if you’re owed anything.
You can find your state’s database through the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) website. Keep in mind that not all types of unclaimed property are in the same database, so you may need to explore other websites as well. For example, you may want to check insurance databases, tax returns, former employment records, and foreign sources of money.
Unclaimed Money From Former Employers
It’s possible that your former employer owes you money from a final paycheck or pension. You can check if this is the case by visiting a website that tracks unclaimed paychecks from former employers. Then, reach out to your former employer and ask for the money owed to you.
Unclaimed Insurance Payments
Insurance companies may owe you money in the form of unclaimed benefits, such as life insurance from the VA or FHA insurance payments. To find out if this is the case, search insurance company databases. If you have questions, consider reaching out to a financial professional.
Unclaimed Tax Refunds
Sometimes, the IRS doesn’t know where to send a tax refund check. If you think you’re owed money in the form of a tax refund or other financial settlement, check the IRS website.
Unclaimed Money From Foreign Sources
If you’ve lived or traveled overseas, you may be owed money from foreign sources. The process for claiming this money can be complicated, but the United States Department of Treasury can assist with international transactions. Check the US Treasury Department website if you think you may be owed money from another country.
Start With Your State’s Database
There are many resources available for claiming unclaimed property, but it’s always best to start with your state’s database. By providing basic demographic information, you may be able to identify unclaimed property that belongs to you. Then, fill out the necessary documents to claim it. If you need help, consider reaching out to a professional.