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Last year, a friend told me he found out his state was holding $200 in unclaimed property for him. Hoping that I might have money or property of my own, I immediately checked to see if my condition held anything for me. I didn’t have that chance, but that doesn’t mean you won’t. States retain $49 billion in unclaimed property and only $3 billion is claimed each year.
Unclaimed property is short of money, with states owning it for 1 in 10 Americans, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. My state alone – California – is sitting on $11.2 billion, waiting for someone to claim.
It’s easy to find out if a state owns any of your unclaimed property. You can quickly search for free and then start the process of filing a claim for your money.
Keep reading to find out if you have unclaimed property and how to get hold of it. To learn more, here’s howand how .
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How can I search for unclaimed property in my state?
You can find out if a state holds property for you by using a NAUPA search tool. Its map of the United States provides links to each state’s website for unclaimed property. It also includes links to property search tools for Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and some Canadian provinces. Be sure to check every state, territory, or district you’ve lived in to see if you have anything to claim.
In most cases, you will be redirected to a page where you can directly search for unclaimed property; in others, you may have to click from a homepage to the unclaimed property search page.
You will usually only need to provide your last name to search for a property, although adding your first name, location or address will help narrow the search.
Two other free services – MissingMoney.com and FindMyMoney – offer built-in searches on their websites, but not for all states. MissingMoney.com allows you to search 41 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and Alberta, Canada, while FindMyMoney provides its own search tool for 28 states and Washington, DC. FindMyMoney is linked to state search engines for the other 23 states.
Some states, like Ohio, work with MissingMoney.com to allow people to search for property and file claims. Once the claim is filed with MissingMoney.com, the state manages the communication, verification and eventual payment of the claim.
How do I claim property from a state after finding it?
There is no federal system for claiming your property – the process varies from state to state. And you don’t need to currently live in a state to claim your property, so check other places you’ve lived.
Most states use a system similar to an online shopping service, where you add a property to claim and then “verify” by providing information such as your current address and social security number to verify your identity and prove that you are the rightful owner. of the property.
After you file your application, the state may contact you by email for any additional information it needs to process the application. Some states will allow you to provide supporting documents online, while others require them to be filed by mail. Your state may keep a small amount—in Kentucky, it’s $1 for any property over $10—as a holding fee.
Most states don’t have a deadline for claiming a property, although some may auction it off after a set period of time. If so, you will still have the right to claim its value from the state.
How long will it take to get my property?
As with the claims process, the time it takes to receive your property will vary from state to state. The California State Comptroller says simple complaints involving money can be resolved in 30 to 60 days. More complex claims involving multiple heirs or businesses can take up to 180 days.
The New York Comptroller’s site says online claims for individuals are typically paid within two weeks. Claims for deceased persons will take four to six weeks and mailed claims will take three to four months to process.
Why would a state keep my property anyway?
After a specific “idle period” – usually one to three years – companies will send money and property to state-run unclaimed property offices when they cannot locate the owner. The State will then keep these objects until their owner claims them.
Property can be money in a savings or checking account, stocks, annuities, life insurance policies, or the contents of safe deposit boxes, among many possible items. California in 2021 had 57 million unclaimed properties, worth $10.1 billion.