Many Are Unaware They Have Unclaimed Money
Some people are not aware that they have money that has been left unclaimed. Others know that they have lost money but do not know how to go about finding it. Whatever an individual’s specific case may be, there are ways to uncover and claim this money. These steps can be simple or quite time-consuming, yet they are necessary. Luckily, most of these steps are free for people who are willing to do the legwork themselves.
Unclaimed money can come from a number of sources, but no matter what these sources are, there are a series of steps that should be taken. Generally, the best method of finding unclaimed money is to start with the simplest steps first, progressing to those that require more detailed work.
1 Step 1
Go through the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) to be connected with the state office that handles unclaimed money. Individuals should check each state of residency; no matter how long ago one might have lived in various locations. There is no statue of limitations on funds that have been left in bank accounts, were part of utility deposits, or on property that was left in safe deposit boxes. Each state’s office works differently. Some provide exact amounts and originating locations when conducting the online search. Others only offer a general idea of the amount of funds. In all cases, individuals must file a claim to receive their lost property.
2 Step 2
Talk with family members and previous employers. Those looking for lost funds should ask family members if they are aware of any accounts that were set up for them as children. They should also question about deceased relatives’ accounts and make sure that all deposits were collected, taxes filed, insurance policies accepted, and accounts closed. Previous employers may be able to share information about retirement plans or group life insurance policies that have sat dormant for many years.
3 Step 3
Physically search for documentation. Any files, including those from insurance providers, credit unions, banks, and many others can be a source of lost money. A search for these types of files is particularly important when a loved one has passed away. Millions of dollars every year are left unclaimed because the family of deceased individuals were unaware of insurance policies and relationships with financial institutions. In most cases, these items can be discovered with a thorough property search.
4 Step 4
Contact the National Credit Union Association’s Asset Management and Assistance Center (AMAC). AMAC keeps a listing of individuals with funds that were left dormant in credit union accounts. AMAC also distributes funds from those credit unions that were dissolved but contained a monetary surplus.
5 Step 5
Look over taxes. Those who have access to their previous years’ income tax returns may find that they have a greater income tax owed to them than what was paid. These individuals have the option of refiling income taxes and can sometimes not only get more money but also receive that money with interest. People who chose not file income taxes or simply forgot to do so may still file and receive an income tax return with interest, as long as they do so within three years.
6 Step 6
Hire a professional agency. If all else fails and an individual is certain there is money that cannot be found, professional agencies do exist that will track down these funds for a fee. They can be much faster in finding the money, though they will charge whether they find the funds or not.
Along with finding lost funds, there are a few steps that can be taken to be certain that money will not go unclaimed again in the future. Individuals should set up direct deposit for income taxes and refunds from other sources. These people should also keep clear records of where vital documentation is kept and what others should do in case of emergency. When moving residences, it is important to update change-of-address forms so that the agencies that are trying to refund money can do so without struggle. Many times, the primary reason that an individual has not been connected with the funds they are owed is simply because the issuing agency cannot find that person.