State treasurers manage issues with unclaimed money through state unclaimed property offices. Every state has laws that oblige financial institutions and businesses that have unclaimed money to turn it over after a specified period of time. Individuals can search unclaimed property office databases, locate missing money and file claims for it through state treasury departments.
Unclaimed money that state treasurers hold for consumers to claim includes funds from inactive bank accounts, payroll checks, utilities deposits, uncashed dividends and trust distributions. It also includes insurance payments, life insurance policies, stocks and annuities. Individual state laws specify how long companies can hold unclaimed funds before turning them in. Once the funds reach state treasuries, the states attempt to locate the owners through means such as searching public data, holding awareness events and maintaining a database accessible to the public. Most states hold the funds indefinitely until owners or their heirs claim them.
To locate unclaimed money, individuals can use the MissingMoney.com search engine, which contains the data from most state unclaimed property offices. Alternatively, they can search individual databases state-by-state. Although some private companies charge a fee to search for unclaimed money, individuals can search state databases themselves for free. When they find lost funds, they fill out claim forms and prove their identities, and states return the funds for free or for a small handling fee.