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The Secrets of Unclaimed Money

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lost and found choiceBefore moving back to Anchorage, we lived in Colorado and my husband worked for the State. Several months after we relocated to Alaska, we received a notice from the State of Colorado saying that my husband had a retirement account with them. If he did not contact them about it, it would be considered abandoned property.

These and several other types of accounts can sometimes go missing or forgotten, especially if you have lived in more than one state. Financial institutions are required by law to turn over any unclaimed property to the state in which the owner last resided. Property can be considered unclaimed after one year or more of no account activity or contact with the owner. Abandoned property includes everything from brokerage and bank accounts to life insurance and annuity proceeds to refunds and released deposits. Each state has a statute that protects the assets that are abandoned and state officials are continuously looking for ways to reunite owners with their unclaimed property.

The current estimate is over $41 billion sitting in state unclaimed property programs. Some of that may be yours, especially if you have lived in more than one state. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) has a website dedicated to assisting individuals with their search for unclaimed property. Go to www.unclaimed.org and select the state you want to search. You will then be directed to that state’s unclaimed property website. MissingMoney is another website endorsed by NAUPA and can search all participating states at once.

NAUPA’s website provides more information about unclaimed property, how to start searching, and how to prevent your assets from becoming lost in the future. For example, next time you get a confirmation from your bank or brokerage firm, make sure to respond to it to let them know you are still aware of the account. Other tips include timely notification to all custodians of any address or name changes. Taking these steps could help you avoid having to jump through more hoops to get the money back.

We often recommend this step when closing an estate for a deceased relative. Even if it does not turn out to be a large amount of money, it is good to know what is out there that may have been overlooked. So take a look and see if you can find any lost money.

Kim Butler, CFP®
Associate Financial Planner

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