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June 2020 Tip of the Month

You Might Not Need Us As Forensic Accountants For This...

But Call Us If You Do

When retained to help administer an estate or just garnering assets, we will often (like just yesterday) search for unclaimed property. Hey, if we know this, why shouldn’t you?

What are we talking about? Well, if a business, government, bank, or other institution owes you money but can't get in contact with you, they may turn the money over to your state government. Most states we know protect unclaimed money and hold it until it is claimed by the rightful owner. If your state is holding on to money that belongs to you, it's due to a federally mandated process called escheatment. According to escheatment rules, abandoned or forgotten property must be turned over to the state after a dormancy period has elapsed.

Start your free search for unclaimed money with your state's unclaimed property office. If you'd rather not search for your state's site, the NAUPA (National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators) has a handy directory. Simply select your state on their interactive map and you'll be redirected to your state's database. You can also do a free search on the websites or , which are both endorsed by the NAUPA feature collective records from all state-held unclaimed property. Frankly, we suggest you also check other states you’ve lived in or done business in. Other companies that claim to offer access to unclaimed funds (and which assess a fee) are often just scams. 

Holders of Unclaimed Property are financial institutions, insurers, utilities, business associations, medical facilities, sole proprietors, fiduciaries, courts, public officers, government entities and all legal or commercial entities that must file a report with the state if they have reportable unclaimed property. These items and funds go missing, often for things as simple as a misspelled name or an out-of-date address. But let’s be clear: this is YOUR money we’re talking about.

These funds may be bank or brokerage accounts, uncashed payroll checks, uncashed dividend checks, CDs, contents of safe deposit boxes, insurance policies, annuities, trust funds, unredeemed money orders, utility deposits, refunds or the many other types of assets covered under the particular state’s statute. Tangible property are physical assets such as collectible coins, jewelry, military medals, stamps, antiques, savings bonds or other physical items. The State only acts as a custodian of these funds until the rightful owner(s) can be located, verified, and the assets are returned. If you locate unclaimed property belonging to you or you have the legal capacity to claim an asset belonging to someone else, you can submit a claim in just a few simple steps. Unclaimed assets are reported in the name or Social Security number of the owner(s) along with any owner information (if available).

So, here’s what your forensic accountants suggest you do:

Search for unclaimed money and property in states where you have lived or worked.
Check for unclaimed funds from bank failures or unclaimed deposits from credit union closures. 
Check for unclaimed back wages, pension money, or life insurance funds.
Search for unclaimed or undelivered tax refunds (federal or state) or search for a refund from an FHA-insured mortgage.
If you're married, check under your maiden name. Using a first initial and your last name is also encouraged to make sure everything comes up. 

The claims process is much simpler if the owner of the unclaimed property is still living, so we encourage our clients to do searches on themselves and their loved ones periodically. However, if you are wanting to claim funds on behalf of a lost loved one, you will need to have access to this documents/information of him/her:

A copy of the death certificate;
His/her social security number;
A copy of his/her id (driver’s license)
Proof of address- showing that your loved one lived at the address on the claim;
A copy of the obituary.