What Are Dormant Bank Accounts?


Quick Answer

A dormant bank account is an account at a financial banking institution that has had no activity by the owner of the account for an extended period of time. If the account holds no funds, it can usually be closed by the bank itself, while accounts with monetary value must remain open and accessible for many years.

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Full Answer

Funds in a dormant back account are eventually either transferred to an estate fund and held for eventual heirs, or they become the property of the state in which the account was opened. Banks are required to keep the accounts open for a number of years, depending on state law. They must make exhaustive attempts to locate the original holder of the account. Once funds have been seized by the state, the owners or heirs have the ability to claim the funds directly from the state government. Most states maintain an "unclaimed property" website under the jurisdiction of the state comptroller; potential beneficiaries of the funds can typically make a claim electronically or by standard mail. While the money is still in the original bank account, regular monthly maintenance and other fees continue to accrue, potentially exhausting the entire amount over a period of months or years.

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