Finding the Forgotten
According to CNN, Federal agencies and other organizations collectively hold “more than $58 billion in unclaimed cash and benefits”. You may have rights to unclaimed property and benefits you didn’t know existed.
Every U.S. state, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have unclaimed property programs that actively and continuously find owners of lost and forgotten accounts. Unclaimed property refers to accounts in financial institutions and companies that have had no activity generated, or contact with the owner, for one year or longer. Property comes in a variety of sources including savings and checking accounts, stocks, uncashed dividends, insurance payments, refunds, safe deposit boxes, trust distributions and many more. State-held unclaimed property is searchable through https://www.unclaimed.org/, and pension benefits can be accessed through https://www.pbgc.gov/search/unclaimed-pensions. Unclaimed savings bonds can be searched using https://www.treasuryhunt.gov/. Check the insurer’s site directly for benefits not held by the state.
Preventative measures can be taken to ensure property does not go unclaimed:
- First, prepare and file a will detailing the disposition of your assets.
- Secondly, cash all checks for dividends, wages and health insurance settlements without delay.
- It is also worth contacting institutions that hold your money or property every year, especially if a change in address or marital status occurs.
While retrieving vital records and identifying unclaimed property may not be at the top of your to-do list, it is an important part of financial success. You might also want to check out this blog post, “Getting Your (Personal Document) House in Order.”