What is Unclaimed Money?

Ryan Thompson
Author: ,
Posted: March 4, 2019

Our friends and family are always asking us the same questions. “What is unclaimed money?” “Where does it come from?” “Do I have unclaimed money?” Well, we are in the business of answering that last question but it is important to look at what unclaimed money actually is.

The NAUPA’S official definition of unclaimed property is “accounts in financial institutions and companies that have had no activity generated or contact with the owner for a year” or more. The most common form of unclaimed property is checking and savings accounts.  We also locate abandoned stocks, payroll checks, security deposits, IRS refunds and insurance payments. Every bank account, job, utility service or insurance policy has the potential to become abandoned.  

How Does This Money Become Lost?

You may be surprised at how often and easy it is for your money to become unclaimed. Who among us doesn’t have some change in our couch cushions? Unclaimed money is just as likely but much harder to search for. Moving to another state and not properly forwarding your address may cause money to be misplaced. One of the leading cause of unclaimed property is a bad address of record.

Money frequently becomes unclaimed under the worst circumstances. The passing of a family member without their affairs in order is another leading cause of unclaimed.

Often times it’s just the nature of our fast paced lives. We forget. And because of the various rules in each state, entities can not hold on to our money simply because we forgot. This is a good thing.

Companies, banks, and financial institutions are legally required to return those funds to you. The length of time these institutions can keep inactive accounts varies by state. The property goes to the designated agency by way of a process called escheating. These escheated funds are then used for the public good.

How Much Unclaimed Money Is There?

State Treasurers have over 60 billion dollars in unclaimed funds and it’s constantly growing. Our lives are so busy that it’s easy to leave money unclaimed in a myriad of ways, no matter how careful we are. Whether it’s a misplaced retirement account an insurance policy from a relative or a security deposit you forgot to collect, it’s easy to understand how so much missing money is out there.


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