DBTC Law Firm

Government got your money?!

Billions of dollars in assets have been confiscated, or “escheated,” from individuals and private businesses by state governments in the United States. This property is subject to being reclaimed by the original owners. In Arkansas alone, $220 million is still waiting to be claimed in the “Great Arkansas Treasure Hunt,” with $103 million having already been claimed since 1980. Could you have some cash waiting on you?

The assets held by the government are called “unclaimed property” and can come from a variety of sources. These include savings accounts, checking accounts, unpaid wages or commissions, stocks, dividends, proceeds, refunds, money orders, paid-up life insurance policies, utility deposits, and even the contents of safety deposit boxes, which can include items like jewelry, coins, baseball cards, or stamps, which, according to various standards, have not been accessed for some period of time by their owners. Abandoned property of this nature becomes unclaimed and is turned over to the state for a variety of reasons, which can include moving without providing new contact information, moving and failing to reclaim deposits, forgetting accounts that have been left open, failing to cash checks, neglecting to cash final paychecks from employers, or heirs not leaving contact information necessary to receive proceeds from decedents’ estates. Possibly the most important issue regarding unclaimed property is the fact that there are no statutes of limitation in place. Because of this, those entitled to unclaimed property that was escheated decades ago still have the ability to retrieve that property.

It is easy to find out if you or a family member have unclaimed property. The National Association for Unclaimed Property Administrators, or NAUPA, oversees unclaimed property. You can search its website, www.unclaimed.org, for free. Arkansans can also search for unclaimed property on the State Auditor’s website, http://auditor.ar.gov. Once on the site, simply type in your name to determine if you have unclaimed property. If you find your name, you can then initiate a claim that will be followed up on by the State. Legitimate proof has to be submitted in order for a claim to be validated, including proof of address and name at the time of the escheatment. Documents like tax returns or utility bills are great for providing this information.

Because of the ease of checking whether you have unclaimed property, it is well worth visiting one of these websites to see if you are lucky enough to have some unclaimed cash waiting for you. A woman from Kansas City, whose family invested in an obscure company many years ago, claimed $6.1 million in 2011. Maybe your fortune is waiting on you!

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