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Billions of dollars in unclaimed property are held by state governments throughout the United States.  Individuals (or their legal representatives) who own that property often never know it exists.  You or a loved one may be one of them.

What is Unclaimed Property?

Unclaimed property is the money in accounts at financial institutions and companies where the account has had no activity for more than a year.  These can include bank accounts, insurance proceeds, payroll checks, utility deposits, refunds, dividends checks, etc.  Under state laws, these companies and financial institutions are required to turn over these forgotten or abandoned accounts to the state’s designated unclaimed property administrator.  The state then works to find, notify individuals and return lost property.

How To Find Unclaimed Property?

Lost PropertyInformation is available through each state’s unclaimed property website and office.  Simple name searches will produce a list of potential property that may belong to the individual.  There are companies that data mine unclaimed property websites and contact individuals who appear on the lists.  These companies offer to help reclaim the property for a percentage of the value they help an individual recover.  Some of these offers are legitimate, while others are scams.  The Sketchley Law Firm and other law firms conduct a lost property search for clients or their caregivers to help find lost money, life insurance policies, accounts, and even forgotten retirement accounts.

How to Claim Unclaimed Property?

Consumers can recover unclaimed property without the assistance of an attorney or a company.  The forms and instructions are available through a state’s unclaimed property administrator’s office.  Most websites are user-friendly and provide the necessary forms, instructions or contact information.  In Florida, information is available on the State of Florida’s Unclaimed Property website.  In Montana, information is available through the State of Montana’s Unclaimed Property website.

When & Where Should You Look For Lost Property?

Everyone should check to see if there is property in their names to reclaim.

If you are caring for an elderly or disabled loved one, be sure you conduct a lost property search for both you and your loved one.  Conduct it in the state in which the you or your loved one lives.  Also, conduct a search in the states where you or your loved one has lived in the past.

If you are a court appointed guardian or acting as an agent for someone under a durable power of attorney, you should also conduct a search for the individual for whom you may be acting.  To recover the property, you may be required to produce a copy of the court documents appointing you guardian or the power of attorney.

If you are appointed the personal representative or executor of an estate, search for any property that might be in the name of the deceased person.  It may be more complicated to recover the property and require you to produce court documents.  However, the recovery of additional property will help the beneficiaries of the estate.