Have you ever wondered if there's money waiting for you? It might sound surprising, but it's possible through something called "unclaimed property." Learn more about what unclaimed property is and how you can check if you have any.
What is Unclaimed Property?
Unclaimed property is like a hidden treasure that belongs to you but got a little lost. Some common forms of unclaimed property include:
- Old checkings or savings account
- Paychecks you forgot to cash
- Certificates of deposits
- Utility security deposits
- Contents of safe deposit boxes
- Insurance policies
When these things are left untouched for a while, the law says they should be kept safe by the government until you come looking for them. Here’s how the process works:
Property doesn’t become unclaimed right away. Instead, it follows a cycle after many years. If the assets stay inactive for a certain time, they become unclaimed property. The company or the bank usually does this. The time where your property is untouched is called the “dormancy period”, which is usually 3-5 years in most states. After this time, businesses will try one more time to reach you. If they can’t, they give the property to the state to keep it safe. Then comes the part where you can get your property back.
What's in it for You?
- Extra Money: The most exciting part – finding lost money means extra cash for you! It could help you buy something special, pay bills, or save for the future.
- Protecting Your Things: Some unclaimed property might be valuable things like jewelry, stocks, or important papers. Getting them back means keeping your treasures safe.
- Feeling Happy and Secure: Imagine knowing that you've found all the money and things that belong to you. It feels good and makes you feel more secure about your finances.
How to Prevent Your Property From Becoming Unclaimed
- Keep Your Accounts Active: To avoid unclaimed property, use your accounts regularly. That means taking out or putting in money from your checking, savings, and certificates of deposit accounts. It’s good for other accounts like brokerage, IRAs, or work plans too. Just a little activity can stop your account from being inactive and unclaimed.
- Keep Your Information Up-To-Date: If you move, don’t forget to tell your bank or old employer your new address. This helps them send your money to the right place, avoiding unclaimed property.
- Keep Records: Banks have to keep updated records, so it’s a good idea for you to do it too. Save electronic copies of things like tax papers, bank statements, and investment transactions. This helps stop unclaimed property from happening later on.
Discovering unclaimed property is like finding a surprise gift you didn't know you had. So, why not take a few minutes to see if there's something waiting for you? You might be in for a pleasant surprise!
How Can You Check for Unclaimed Property?
Go to missingmoney.com for a free search. Look for yourself or your family. You can also check your state’s unclaimed property program online. If you find something, the state will guide you on how to get it back. Remember to search in any state where you or your family has lived or worked.