Claiming Your Unclaimed Investments: Does Someone Owe You Money?

Because you carefully monitor your finances, you probably believe that you already have all the money that you’re owed. However, this simply isn’t the case. There is a significant amount of unclaimed money that’s being held in all 50 states. This situation is so common, in fact, that each state has a specific department in charge of tracking these assets and handling their proper distribution. Once you know what’s rightfully yours, you can begin the process of claiming your unclaimed funds.

What is an unclaimed investment?

Unclaimed investments, sometimes also referred to as unclaimed properties, are usually monetary assets rather than physical property. For example, an unclaimed investment might be a security deposit refund from one of your utility companies, funds in an inactive checking or savings account that your bank has closed, or insurance benefits that were only partially paid.

An unclaimed investment may also be the result of a loved one’s estate being probated. In many cases, there are funds passed to a surviving heir because of the sale of land, the liquidation of a company, or the closing of an account at the time of death. In some cases, the agency or individual who probated your loved one’s estate might have been unable to locate you. This is particularly likely if your loved one created their will several years before their passing. In other cases, the funds may have simply been forgotten about or overlooked during the original probation period.

How do I know if I am entitled to money?

Now that you understand what an unclaimed investment is, you may be wondering if it’s really worth the time to contact each of your previous insurance agencies, banks, utility companies, and other service providers to determine if you are entitled to a refund. Luckily, there is a much easier way to begin the process of finding your cash and claiming it quickly.

As previously mentioned, each state has a particular agency or department that is tasked with keeping track of uncollected funds. In fact, most states even have a searchable database of unclaimed investments on their websites. The search function will vary from state to state. Some databases will allow you to search by your name, your mailing address, or your social security or tax identification number.

If your state’s database search is based on names or addresses, be sure to run a search for all of your previous names and all previous addresses in your state. This shouldn’t be a problem if your state has an ID number search function. However, if you’ve ever been involved in a sole proprietorships or business partnership, you should also run a search using those tax ID numbers.

Because creditors and financial institutions are only required to report unclaimed funds periodically, it’s a good idea to repeat this process each year. Don’t forget that you may have unclaimed investments in multiple states if you have ever lived or worked somewhere else.

How do I collect?

Once you’ve learned that you have unclaimed investments, you will obviously want to claim your money. The process will vary slightly from state to state, but, in most cases, you’ll only be required to provide a brief written request or fill out an application form, then submit it with a copy of your proof of identity with current mailing address. You’ll find that the vast majority of states have detailed instructions online. Some states allow the entire process to be completed online by submitting a fillable PDF form and uploading a scanned copy of your identification. Others may require that you prepare hard copies and mail them to their office. In either case, it may take a few weeks to receive payment once your information is received. Waiting for your check to arrive is usually the most difficult part of the entire process!

Most people can search their state’s online database in the time it takes to finish their morning coffee. While it’s possible that there aren’t currently any unclaimed investments in your name, it’s also possible that there are. Some people have discovered that they’re entitled to hundreds or thousands of dollars. Take the time today to find out if you’re one of them.

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