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Could your state secretly owe you money? How to find out quickly and for free



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You may need to claim money or other valuables that your state holds on your behalf.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Could your U.S. state have money, checks, or other valuables from you that you can claim? No, these are not stolen goods. Instead, a state might be guarding items for you that amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars. This happened to me: I came across a link on a state site to claim a property, and it didn’t cost me anything to check. It would have cost me hundreds of dollars if I hadn’t.

This is a surprisingly common occurrence. New York holds $ 16.5 billion in lost or forgotten properties, California’s assets are estimated to be around $ 10.2 billion, and Florida has returned claimed properties worth $ 328 million last year. In total, the average claim paid in 2019 was $ 1,780, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.

It takes less than 2 minutes to verify that your state has something of yours and not much longer to claim the item. We will explain how. For more money matters, read more about stimulus check “plus-up” payments, the comprehensive child tax credit for maximum $ 3,600 per child, and what we know about one fourth stimulus control and the next incentive account.

What unclaimed items could your state have?

States may own a range of your properties that you can claim, including: a forgotten bank account or savings bank account, a dividend, stocks, bonds, a credit balance, a cash refund or settlement, a utility deposit, an unsuccessful check, a money order, insurance payments, wages or the contents of an abandoned safe, including jewelry or coins.

Why would a state have my property or money?

A business or government office is usually required by law to try to contact the rightful owner of money or property it owns. If they can’t find the rightful owner after a certain amount of time, they should send the unclaimed item to a state-run unclaimed real estate agency. Some states may say that the property has been “violated,” meaning that the item has been transferred to the state. The state office will keep these items until the owner claims them.

In most US states, it is free and easy to find out if you have unclaimed property. Claims are also free, but can be a bit more work depending on what documents you need to collect and then send to the state to prove that you are the rightful owner.






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How to check for unclaimed money or property a state may own

To find out if a state owns financial assets that you should claim, the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators has links to official websites where you can search for unclaimed properties by every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin. Islands.

1. Go to Unclaimed.org and make your choice Select your state or province or tap or click your state on the map. You will be sent to the state unclaimed property page.

2. Next, you may need to choose a link such as “Search for Unclaimed Properties” (California) or “Get Started” (Texas), or the search box may be on the first page you landed on (Utah).

3. Now enter your details. The page may ask for your first and last name, middle initial and city. Your last name is probably required, but you can try to use or skip the suggested fields to refine or broaden the results.

You can search 39 states at once using the Missing Money website, which is endorsed by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. However, the search function is missing 11 states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Oregon, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington, and Wyoming. The layout contains ads in a way that can be confusing, so please read carefully.

Another site, FindMyFunds, lets you search 25 states and the District of Columbia all at once, with direct links to the official unclaimed state property websites that don’t include it in the results.

If your search in any of the tools gives an indication that a state owns your property, it’s time to claim it.

How to Claim Money, Property, or Financial Assets from a State That Holds It for You

If your search results show that a state holds money or property from you, you can file a claim to get it back. Each state handles claims a little differently. Some allow you to submit your claim online, while others require you to submit documentation to support your claim. Some of the documents you may need to provide include:

  • A copy of your photo ID
  • A copy of your Social Security card or individual tax identification number
  • Verification of your current address
  • Documentation related to the type of property, such as bank details, a cashier’s check, or a certificate of stock

Note that a state may auction certain financial assets. For example, Florida is holding an auction of the contents of abandoned safe-deposit boxes this month. After the Florida auction, owners can still claim the item’s value.

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You can search for unclaimed money that the state has in your possession.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Is there a state deadline to claim your property?

Most states – including Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas – have no deadline for you to claim your money or property. However, for some items, such as jewelry, coins and stamps or the contents of a safe, states can auction the property and then keep the proceeds for the rightful owner to claim. Check with your state to find out if you have a deadline to claim your property and if the state will auction items after a certain amount of time.

How long will it take to receive your money after claiming it?

Don’t expect the claim to be processed quickly. The New York State Comptroller’s office said it can take 90 days to process a claim. Florida’s Department of Financial Services also said it expects 90 days for the Division of Unclaimed Property to process a claim. The California State Controller’s office said it can take up to 180 days to return properties.

What types of properties cannot you claim?

While many states will have financial assets ranging from mineral rights to the contents of a safe, some will not assume other types of property, including real estate, automobiles, and unused gift cards. Check with your state to see what types of properties you can claim.






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Can your state seize your claimed money to pay off an outstanding debt?

If you have an outstanding debt to your state or local government, depending on the state, it can be diverted to pay that debt. California, for example, allows the Franchise Tax Board to intercept unclaimed property funds – as well as state lottery money and tax refunds – to cover debts you owe to a state, county, or municipal agency.

Is there a way to claim money on behalf of a deceased family member?

States also allow you to claim property from a deceased relative, and the rules for filing a claim vary from state to state. In general, in addition to providing documents to verify your own identity, you must provide a death certificate, the will of the deceased and documents proving your relationship with the deceased and your right to claim ownership.

For more on financial matters, here’s what we know about President Joe Biden’s plans canceling the student debt, new ways to pay less for health care and the latter and the bonus money for weekly unemployment checks.


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