How to Find and Claim Your Family’s Forgotten Assets
Forgotten or lost money is actually very common in the United States. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, there are literally billions of dollars in unclaimed funds sitting in state treasuries and other agencies just waiting to be found.
These unclaimed funds come from accounts that are inactive or whose owners, or their heirs, cannot be located. Unclaimed funds can include things like lost or forgotten checking or savings accounts, stocks, utility security deposits, tax refunds, life insurance policy proceeds, uncashed dividend checks, bonds ‘overdue savings and much more.
This usually happens because of a change of address (the owner moved), a name change (the owner got married or divorced), or the owner dies, and the estate didn’t know about the money or it wasn’t was able to locate the heirs. By law, companies and financial institutions that cannot find the owner or their relatives within two to five years must turn the property over to the state where it is kept indefinitely.
About 10 percent of all Americans have unclaimed money waiting to be found, so it’s quite possible your mother had some too. To start your search, go to Unclaimed.org, which has links to all the state programs that will allow you to do a state benefits search online for free. Or you can do a multi-state search of 39 states at MissingMoney.com.
Be sure to check every state in which your mother lived, worked, or did business. Also, be sure to check with your mother’s maiden name, and if she had a commonly misspelled name, look for those misspellings as well. It is also recommended to use your first initial and last name to make sure everything comes out.
Each state can tell you right away if your mom has unclaimed money, as well as how to go about collecting it.
In addition to state treasures, here are some other resources that can help you find unclaimed money that may have been overlooked.
Forgotten Retirement Benefits: To search for lost or forgotten 401(k) funds your mom left behind with a former employer, use the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits at UnclaimedRetirementBenefits.com. Or to search for lost pension benefits, use the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s Trust Plan Search Tool at PBGC.gov/search-trusteed-plans.
Lost Life Insurance: To locate a lost or forgotten life insurance policy, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, an insurance regulatory support organization, offers a free policy locator service at https:// eapps.naic.org/life-policy-locator .
Unredeemed Savings Bonds: It is very common for people to lose track of US savings bonds because they are often given to children as gifts and then forgotten about before they reach adulthood. To find out if your mom had one, the US Treasury Department offers an online search tool at TreasuryHunt.gov to find past due and uncollected savings bonds over 30 years old that no longer earn interest.