Have you ever wondered whether you have unclaimed assets or funds lying around somewhere? If you have, then this post will help you find those hidden or forgotten assets as well as show you how to claim them. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administration statistics, approximately $41.7 billion is held by the state under unclaimed property programs. The good news is that the evolution of web-based databases has made it very easy for you to track lost assets. How then do you find what is rightfully yours?
State Unclaimed Property
Assets are usually turned over to federal agencies in charge of unclaimed property programs because state laws declare assets abandoned after three years. These agencies assume the role of finding the rightful owners of these assets. However, if they are unsuccessful, they are required to turn the assets over to the state which will then try to find the rightful owners.
To find out whether you have lost assets, you will need to search the database of your current or former state. Today, most states submit such data to the national database which you can access freely at www.missingmoney.com. This site has records from more than 30 states and has been endorsed by National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA).
Some of the property under state-held unclaimed assets include financial accounts, bonds, royalty payments, uncashed dividend, payroll checks, bonds, utility security deposits, traveler's checks, trust distributions, refunds for goods or services, insurance payments, insurances and safe-deposit box contents.
Federal Forgotten Asset Programs
The federal government also keeps tabs on unclaimed assets. These include tax refunds, pension funds, money from collapsed banks and credit unions. The government also tracks the money owed to investors under the US SEC enforcement cases as well as refunds from the FHA insured mortgages.
The federal government, however, doesn’t have a common website from where to access these databases. So, you will have to search in multiple locations. First, visit the IRS official website since it handles unclaimed funds. Alternatively, you can check out the NAUPA website through this address: www.unclaimed.org.
Accounts at Collapsed banks, S&Ls, and the Credit Union
These funds can be traced at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corps website. When a credit union fails, the National Credit Union pays the institution’s members. If you feel that the organization owes you some funds, check at the NCUA website.
Other Sites you can Search for Unclaimed Funds
• IRS.gov – Search for any possible refund money from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
• The Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp - Search their database for any unclaimed pension money.
• Treasuryhunt.gov – Can be helpful when searching for unclaimed savings bonds and payments.
Claiming the Forgotten Funds
Once you have traced the lost assets, you will have to show proper proof of identification and ownership before you can claim your property. You need to be ready to produce some form of ID, such as a Social Security card, driver’s license or birth certificate.
If you are an heir of a forgotten unclaimed property whose listed owner is deceased, you will need a copy of the death certificate and the SSN of the deceased. In most cases, you also have to show documents which prove that you are the named beneficiary of the asset. The same process applies for the unclaimed assets regarding life insurance policies.
Should You Hire a Finder Firm?
Finder firms may not be a good idea because they usually impose hefty charges. You may pay the finder only to be referred to the websites mentioned in this post. Other finder firms work on a contingency basis; they will propose to help you claim an asset after which they take a percentage as their payment. The downside to these finder firms is that you will still have to handle the lengthy paperwork and produce the necessary documents.
Experts advise on using websites such as www.missingmoney.com to find unclaimed assets rather than hiring finder firms. However, if you have to hire a finder company, you should consider involving an attorney throughout the process. They will draft a contract between you and the firm. This contract should state that you will pay the company only after you recover your unclaimed assets successfully. Make sure you negotiate any compensations beforehand.
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