- December 28, 2022
Most of us have moved from one place to another, perhaps to a different state, as we pursued career opportunities or located closer to family. Inevitably, some things get left behind. This could include an old bank account or a final paycheck that you never received.
Maybe you put money into a mutual fund account when you received your first bonus but never added more funds and simply forgot about the account.
Maybe you bought stock back in the 1990s through a dividend reinvestment plan, but after moving, your dividend checks were returned to the company because they could not be delivered.
Or your great aunt, Julie, who never married and socked away U.S. savings bonds into her bank safe deposit box, but sadly passed away and no one in the family knew about her bond certificates.
When money goes unclaimed, it eventually is turned over to the state in which the account, mutual fund or life insurance policy resides. Each state has its own unclaimed property laws to handle uncashed paychecks, tax refund checks that were never deposited, and even cable TV refunds.
According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce website, more than $699,654,735 in unclaimed property has been returned to its rightful owners.
Per Peter Brickwedde, Assistant Commissioner, Minnesota averages between $35 million to $40 million in funds returned to residents of the state. In the US, about $3 billion per year is returned to claimants. (KARE 11, 9/21/2021)
Most states participate in the nationwide website “Missing Money” which allows anyone to search for unclaimed property. Go to www.missingmoney.com. You can look up family members and friends to see if they might have property that was turned over to the state.
How long does it take to receive your missing money?
According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the average time for those smaller amounts is 72 hours.
What generally qualifies as unclaimed property?
The Missing Money website lists the following as types of unclaimed property:
- Checking and savings accounts
- Uncashed payroll checks
- Uncashed stock dividends
- Insurance payments
- Inactive stock brokerage accounts
- Utility deposits
- Refund checks
- Money orders
- Traveler’s checks
- Mineral proceeds
- Life insurance proceeds
If any of these happen to ring a bell, it may be worth a search on your state’s Missing Money website.
What is NOT considered unclaimed property?
Minnesota law excludes gift certificates, gift cards or abandoned layaway accounts issued by a business from what it tracks.
How much time is required before unclaimed intangible property is turned over to the state?
This is called the “dormancy period,” and the length of the period varies depending on the type of property that has gone unclaimed. According to a 2021 report from the law firm, Moss & Barnett, “Uncashed checks from wages can become unclaimed property after one year and customer overpayments become unclaimed property after a three year period.” (Nathan J. Thompson, 5/26/2021)
Where do I check for unclaimed property I might have in Minnesota?
Simply click this link to search Minnesota's unclaimed property database.
Are there other websites or resources that I can check for more information?
Check out the web site for the National Association of Unclaimed Property HERE. You’ll see a link to each state’s unclaimed property program.
For a search of other databases, check out the USA.gov site for unclaimed money. It includes links to the Department of Labor (for unpaid wages) as well as VA Life Insurance Funds and unclaimed or undelivered tax refunds through the IRS.
Is there a cost/fee to claim funds?
According to the NAUPA website, if you use an official state program, it is free to search and claim your missing money. There are third-party locators (for profit) that may offer to search for your unclaimed property for a fee. Before signing a contract with a third-party finder, see if the company is registered with the state.
According to the KARE 11 report referenced above, 1 in 10 Americans has missing money – maybe that’s you. Good luck in your search!