An asset is any resource or property that has monetary or financial value. Unclaimed asset, or more commonly known as unclaimed property, is any asset held by an individual, company or any other entity that cannot be found. Unclaimed assets are generally tangible properties. Unclaimed assets can also include one of the following: Savings accounts, checking accounts, certificates of deposit, deposit box contents, uncashed stock and mutual Fund dividends, insurance payments, stock certificates, and a lot more.
Assets are declared unclaimed if the owner cannot be found in whatever way by the individual or company in possession of the asset (also known as the “holder”) within a certain period of time, commonly three years. Nearly all unclaimed assets become lost due to the following: change of address (the owner moved to another place), change of name (the owner either got married or divorced), or the death of the owner.
Unclaimed property laws have been around since the 1940s but have become fully established only in the last 15 years. The fact is that during the Fiscal year 2006, an estimated $1.7 billion worth of unclaimed assets have been given back to the rightful owners from 1.9 million accounts. What is more, no less than $32.8 billion worth of unclaimed assets is now being secured by state treasurers for 117 million accounts.
For unclaimed assets greater than $100, the holder must make all possible efforts to find the owner before turning the asset over to the state government. In case the holder is not able to track down the owner, it should give the name and all known addresses of the owner to the proper authorities.
Local state treasurers have developed effective programs to locate owners. Examples of these programs include the use of the internet, cross-checking public data, conducting hundreds of awareness events in state fairs, and developing a national database called MissingMoney.com. MissingMoney.com is an internet site recognized by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA). The website contains the official collective records from nearly all state unclaimed assets program.
An asset becomes lost when the communication between the holder and the owner is also lost. To safeguard your assets, always communicate with the right institutions that maintain your property on a yearly basis, primarily when there is a change in address or change of marital status.