Could There be Money Waiting for You?

/ December 21, 2018

The notion that there could be hundreds to thousands of dollars in unclaimed money seems rather thrilling.  And you could be one of the lucky winners.  Over the last few years, there has been a rise in the amount of unclaimed money.  So much so, that in 2016, nearly $750 million was just sitting there, waiting for the right person to file a claim. 

It’s hard to imagine how so much money can go unknown and unwanted, but with the whirlwind of life, sometimes money isforgotten.  You may have over payed a bill or forgot to pick up a check.  Then you move or change your address, making it a challenge to find you.  You may not even know that there is money out there for you to claim. You or a loved one could have had a life insurance policy or forgotten IRA.

The Path of the Unclaimed Money

Typically, the bank or holder of the property will keep funds for up to a year and try to get a hold of the rightful owner.  After a set period of time, dictated by what kind of account is unclaimed, the property is presumed abandoned and transferred to the state with any interest that was accrued, dividends, etc.  After that, the state assumes custody and safe keeping of the money and provides notice in a manner that the Commissioner deems most effective. The process varies from state to state. At any time, someone can make a claim of property and the state will return the principal amount to its owner. Otherwise, if left unclaimed, the money sits in a trust awaiting its owner.

Unclaimed Money before the Minnesota Supreme Court

Recently, in Minnesota unclaimed money held by the State recently went before the Minnesota Supreme Court as a class action with two claims:

  1. that the state violated the Takings Clause of the constitution by not providing interest earned on the money while in the state’s possession and,
  2. that their right to due process was violated because the State did not put in enough effort to let them know they had money out there. 

The Minnesota Supreme Court determined in their opinion that the State did not violate the Takings Clause because much of the money held by the State did not originally accrue interest in the first place.  A claim for a life insurance policy or account that originally bears interest, however, is entitled to the interest that was accumulated by the State.

The Court also determined that Due Process was not violated because the State does their best to provide notice through many facets: by mail, publication, and in a person’s right to inspect public records or through the statute itself.

How to Claim Unclaimed Money

  • Unclaimed Bank Accounts, Stocks, Uncashed Checks and Wages, Insurance Policies, Refunds, etc.:  In order to find out if you may have a claim,the websites and are invaluable resources.  If your name appears in the search, the websites will provide instructions of how best to claim your funds. 
  • Unclaimed Savings Bonds: You may even have claims for missing savings bonds.  Since savings bonds mature for up to thirty years, it is easy to forget you have one.  The process for determining if you have unclaimed savings bonds may be more arduous, but as of 2016, a person’s average claim yielded $1,000.00.  You simply fill out a 1048-Claim for Lost,Stolen, or Destroyed United States Savings Bond Form with the information that you know, go to a local bank to get the form notarized, and send it to the Treasury Retails Security. After a few months of patiently waiting, the search could yield an unexpected influx of funds.
  • Unclaimed Pensions: To determine if you or loved one may have an unclaimed pension, you can go onto the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation Website.  Through the website, a search can be made by name or the company the pension was created with.  Once a pension has been found, the site will provide directions with how best to claim the funds.

The idea that there may be money waiting out there, just for you may seem too good to be true.  For thousands across the Nation, this is a reality.  The path to finding your money can be easy and painless.  If there really is money out there waiting for you, why wait?