Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Finding Willie Mays or how to find lost money

Unclaimed Property -- assets which the owner has neglected, abandoned or just plain forgotten gets transfered to the state. All states have laws related to unclaimed property called "escheat" laws. The initial purpose of these laws was to ensure dormant assets -- uncashed checks, bank deposits, securities in brokerage accounts, valuables in safe deposit boxes, even gift cards -- were returned to their owner. However, states running into budget problems have used some of this unclaimed property as a source of funds. States do make some effort to return property to their owners but this effort is woefully inadequate. California, for example, is holding more than $5 billion in unclaimed property. Combining all states, the total balloons to more than $35 billion!

To learn more about unclaimed property and to see if you own a portion, you may visit www.unclaimed.org/ or www.missingmoney.com. The first site is sponsored by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators and the second is run by Affiliated Computer Services and each have the capability to do national searches. In searching sites, it will be helpful to have the owner's last known address handy. I have found that having previous addresses were helpful as well when doing a thorough search.

Using the unclaimed.org site, I was able to locate about $500 of unclaimed property in a state I've never been in! I went through the process of putting a claim together with supporting documentation (keeping good records pays off!) and received a check for my "lost money".

Oh, as to finding Willie Mays, my favorite baseball player of all-time and the hall of fame San Francisco Giants slugger. The state is holding some $3,000 in unclaimed property for Mr. Mays even though he's been at the same address for more than 30 years!

Thanks for reading and hope this helps you find your lost money.

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