Not too long ago I was talking to a client who had recently lost her father. Her mother had passed away years ago, but her dad just recently passed. During our conversation, she mentioned that her father was somewhat of a nomad in the fact that since the death of her mother, nearly twenty years ago, her father had lived in ten different locations in six different states. As soon as I heard that, I automatically asked her if she has ever done a lost property search. Not surprisingly, she had no idea what I was talking about.
Every year banks, financial institutions and other entities turn property and accounts over to the state if there has been no activity in the account for generally a five year period. The state treats this property as unclaimed assets and hold onto them until the rightful owner comes forward. Of course, the great majority of people have no idea that they lost that property, and, thus, it just sits at the state as an unclaimed asset. You may question how people can forget about their assets. This may surprise you, but it is quite normal. Particularly, in our society today, where many people live in various locations throughout their lifetime, and, as a result, it would not be unusual to forget about some accounts. For example, it happens a lot at banks. People think they have closed out their accounts, but there was some interest left in it. Another example is a person who leaves their employer and was entitled to some type of compensation, and now the employer can’t locate the employee. In those situations, the bank or the employer are supposed to turn that property over to the state. The state then acts as a custodian for that money until it is claimed.
You may think in dealing with the state it is very difficult to locate and to claim unclaimed assets, it is not. Just about every state has a data base online where you can search. To search the State of Michigan’s unclaimed property data base, all you need to do is go to the Michigan Department of Treasury at www.michigan.gov/treasury and click on unclaimed property where you can then do a search. Another good website is www.missingmoney.com which allows you to search its’ website of about thirty-nine states at once.
I think it’s not a bad idea for everyone to go to the websites of the various states where they have lived. You may be surprised to find that there is something that you are entitled that you had no idea about. My philosophy has always been that the money looks better in your pocket than it does in anyone else’s, and, thus, if you are entitled to the money, why not get it.
One of the questions people may ask is whether it easy to get the money from the state. Generally, the answer is yes. However, in the situation at hand, where the property may not be yours but a loved one’s, it is a bit more complex. Particularly for someone who is deceased, a probate may have to be opened. The bottom line however, is it’s your money and it may be worth a little bit of aggravation and frustration to get it.
As I look outside and I see the green grass, it’s hard to believe that it is mid-December. There’s just something nice about seeing green grass in December. That being said, I want to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a very happy, healthy holiday season. In addition, let’s not forget what the holidays are about. It’s not about gift-giving, but rather it’s about enjoying and appreciating your loved ones.