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You Could Have Unclaimed Property

You Could Have Unclaimed Property

| March 23, 2020
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Let me share some good news with you. I was reading the local newspaper about Unclaimed Property the other day.  I used to search for this in past, but it had been many years since I had.  I went online and found out that I had $50 from an old utility bill as a refund that was owed to me.  Who knew?  I didn't.  It took about two minutes to complete the form and request my check (which I received about a week later).  It made for a nice meal for my wife and me for a date night.

I then searched most of my family and I found out my mother had $75 waiting for her.  Even better, I found $500 that was with the State Unclaimed property for one of my cousins.

So what is unclaimed property?  According to the Tennessee Department of Treasury, “unclaimed property is intangible property (un-cashed paychecks, savings accounts) or tangible property (safe deposit box contents), in which there has been no activity generated or contact with the owner for a one-year or longer period at which point it becomes unclaimed or “abandoned.”” (https://treasury.tn.gov/Unclaimed-Property/About-Unclaimed-Property/What-is-Unclaimed-Property)  

In other words, let’s say there’s an old savings account you had many years ago.  It had a small balance and you just forgot you had it.  If you’ve had no contact with that bank for some period of time, they may turn the funds over to the State.  The same can be said for items in a safe deposit box.  There may have been attempts to reach you but you moved or changed your name, etc.  So, the funds sit at the State until claimed.  Currently, in my state of Tennessee alone, there is over $976 million in unclaimed property.  One in 10 Americans have unclaimed property and likely don’t know.  So far, I’ve found that four members of my family had unclaimed property. So, remember your family members, even those who have passed away.  I found that my grandfather, who passed away in 1965, has $140 in unclaimed funds.  I plan to get that and donate it to the cemetery where he is buried.  Also, take into consideration if you’ve lived in other states.  Each state has its own unclaimed property site and processes.  You’ll want to search their websites as well.

This was all great but there are larger lessons.  Stay in touch with your bank and make sure they know when you move.  Keep up with your finances and read the notices sent to you by legitimate sources (utilities, banks, former employers, etc).  Also, have that difficult conversation with family members.  Make sure someone knows where their funds are kept and where they may have a safe deposit box just in case.  

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