Have you ever wondered if you have unclaimed assets that you don’t know about? You may be surprised to learn that most states have thousands, or even millions, of dollars in unclaimed assets that are ready to be claimed by the rightful owners.
Unclaimed assets can include money in forgotten bank accounts, uncashed checks, insurance policies, and more. With a little bit of research and determination, you can learn how to take the necessary steps to find and claim your unclaimed assets.
Continue reading below to learn more about finding and claiming unclaimed assets, so you can start to benefit from what is rightfully yours.
What are unclaimed assets?
Unclaimed assets are assets that have not been claimed by their rightful owner. These assets can include insurance policies, uncashed checks, stocks and bonds, or even forgotten bank accounts.
Many unclaimed assets have been forgotten by their owners because the owners have either lost track of the asset and don’t know it exists, or the owner has had difficulty finding the asset.
Many people have an expectation that unclaimed assets will be returned to them once they have been identified, but unfortunately, this is not always the case.
There are several factors that go into determining whether the rightful owner of unclaimed assets will be able to claim those assets.
Benefits of claiming unclaimed assets
- Tax benefits: Unclaimed assets may provide tax benefits to the rightful owners of those assets. Let’s say you have a forgotten savings account that has accrued interest over the years. You may be able to collect all the interest that the bank has accrued, tax-free.
- Cash value: Many unclaimed assets have a cash value, which means that the rightful owner may be able to receive a lump-sum payment from the company holding the asset.
- Confidence: Finding and claiming unclaimed assets proves that you are a careful and responsible person who takes the time to look after their own interests.
- Peace of mind: If you have been putting off looking for unclaimed assets because you don’t know where to start, this is the perfect project to ease your mind and bring you some peace of mind.
- Future unclaimed assets: If you find and claim unclaimed assets, you may be able to find unclaimed assets in the future more easily.
How to search for unclaimed assets
- First, decide what types of assets you are hoping to find. This will help you decide what websites, databases, and resources you should use to conduct your search.
- Research online: There are several online resources that have databases full of unclaimed assets. Start with a simple Google search, and look for websites with large databases.
- Contact your state government: Many states have offices that oversee unclaimed assets. Contact your state government to find out what unclaimed assets are present in your state.
- Search your name on public records websites: You can use websites like Spokeo or BeenVerified to search for your name on public records websites, like court records or the Social Security Death Index.
- Contact financial institutions: Banks and other financial institutions often have unclaimed assets that belong to their customers. Contact your financial institutions to see if they have any unclaimed assets waiting to be claimed.
- Talk to family members: If you know someone who has passed away, ask their relatives if they know whether the deceased person had unclaimed assets.
How to claim unclaimed assets
- Start by making a list of unclaimed assets you hope to claim. Make the list as detailed and thorough as possible, so you don’t miss anything.
- Use your list to start your research into each of the assets, to see what requirements you need to meet to claim them.
- Make a plan for how you will go about claiming each unclaimed asset. Create a timeline for yourself so you don’t get overwhelmed with the process.
- Be patient as you go through the process. It may take time to find each of these assets, and there may be certain steps that you have to take before you can claim each asset.
- Follow the instructions for claiming each unclaimed asset exactly as they are written. Make sure to account for any fees that you may have to pay, or any other requirements for claiming the asset.
Tips for finding and claiming unclaimed assets
- Start with the assets that are easiest to find. This will give you a sense of how difficult the process of finding unclaimed assets will be.
- Don’t get discouraged if you don’t find all of your unclaimed assets right away. This is a process that can take months or even years.
- Be thorough with your search. You may have to go through many databases and website to find all the unclaimed assets that you are looking for.
- Be patient, but don’t wait too long. If you are in your 20s or 30s, you may have to wait several decades for unclaimed assets to expire.
- Don’t give up. If you don’t find a particular unclaimed asset, don’t quit. There might be another unclaimed asset that you can claim.
State-specific resources for unclaimed assets
States have databases for unclaimed property and assets. You can start a search in your state’s database with your name. In some cases, you may need to provide an address or other identifying information.
- California Unclaimed Property: This website has information about unclaimed property in California, as well as instructions for how to search for and claim unclaimed property in California.
- New York Unclaimed Funds: This website has information about unclaimed funds in New York, as well as instructions for how to search for and claim unclaimed funds in New York.
- Texas Unclaimed Money: This website has information about unclaimed money in Texas, as well as instructions for how to search for and claim unclaimed money in Texas.
- Florida Department of State: This website has information about unclaimed property in Florida, as well as instructions for how to search for and claim unclaimed property in Florida.
Fees and taxes associated with unclaimed assets
Unclaimed assets may not be free money that you can claim and start using immediately. In some cases, the company holding the unclaimed assets may charge a fee to release those funds, or they may distribute the funds as part of a fund that is intended to benefit a group of people.
For example, if your unclaimed assets are from a life insurance policy, the insurance company may decide to pay this out to all of their policy holders rather than to one individual. This is often done to ensure that the money is distributed as fairly as possible.
In other cases, you may be required to pay income taxes on unclaimed assets. It is important to research which government agency holds your unclaimed assets, and to contact that agency to find out whether you will be required to pay any fees or taxes on those unclaimed assets.
Unclaimed asset scams to watch out for
Unfortunately, scammers have been known to target people who are searching for unclaimed assets. Be on the lookout for scammers who attempt to take advantage of people who are eager to find their unclaimed assets.
Scammers often use websites that look very official, with some type of government seal or logo, to trick people into providing their personal information. You can help protect yourself against scammers by following these tips:
- Be wary of websites that have official-looking seals or logos. Scammers often use these symbols to make their website look more official.
- Be careful when entering your personal information on any website.
- Don’t trust a website because it has a seal or logo. Always do your own research to determine whether or not a website is legitimate.
The Importance of Estate Planning
Many people don’t think about unclaimed assets until they start their search, but it’s never too early to start planning for your financial future.
Having a will in place allows you to make sure that your unclaimed assets go to the people you want to receive them.
A will makes sure that your assets are distributed according to the terms you set out in your will, which may be different than the terms set out by the state. A will also allows you to leave an inheritance to your loved ones, even if you don’t have unclaimed assets.
While it’s impossible to know whether or not you have unclaimed assets, it’s up to you to decide who should receive your assets if you have them.
Finding and claiming unclaimed assets can be a great way to supplement your income.
These assets may not have been easily accessible in the past, but thanks to the internet, you can now find and claim unclaimed assets from your computer or mobile device.
The first step in starting your search for unclaimed assets is to determine what types of assets you are looking for.