Have you ever considered the possibility of having unclaimed funds waiting for you? It might sound like a long shot, but according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), there is currently over $42 billion in unclaimed funds waiting to be claimed by their rightful owners. If you are wondering how to look for unclaimed funds and why it is important, keep reading.
What are unclaimed funds?
Unclaimed funds are essentially any financial asset that has been abandoned or forgotten by its owner. These assets can include bank accounts, uncashed checks, insurance policies, stocks, dividends, IRA accounts and more. After a certain period of inactivity, usually around one to five years, financial institutions and companies are required by law to turn over these unclaimed funds to the state government, where they are held until the rightful owner claims them.
How to look for unclaimed funds?
The good news is that looking for unclaimed funds is easier than you might think. The first step is to visit the official government website of the state you live in or any state where you have lived or worked in the past. Most states have an online database that allows you to search for unclaimed funds using your name or any other relevant information such as your social security number. For example, New York’s’ site, part of their office of the comptroller, states that in 2023 alone, over $79 million dollars has been returned to its rightful owners. Their site requires only a last name and a social security or tax ID number to make a claim.
It is also important to keep in mind that unclaimed funds can come from sources other than state governments. For example, the federal government maintains its own database of unclaimed funds, which includes tax refunds, unclaimed savings bonds, and more. You can search for these funds on the official website of the Bureau of the Fiscal Service.
Why is it important to look for unclaimed funds?
There are several reasons why you should take the time to search for unclaimed funds. First and foremost, it is a way to potentially recover lost or forgotten money that rightfully belongs to you. This can be especially important if you are facing financial difficulties or if you simply want to put the money towards something that is important to you, such as a vacation, home renovation, or retirement savings.
In addition to the financial benefits, looking for unclaimed funds can also be a way to reconnect with your past. For example, you might discover unclaimed funds from a long-forgotten savings account that you opened as a child, or from a job that you held many years ago. These discoveries can be a reminder of your personal history and the many experiences that have shaped your life.
Finally, looking for unclaimed funds is a way to protect yourself from identity theft. If someone else has used your personal information to open a bank account or file a tax return, it is possible that there are unclaimed funds in your name that you are unaware of. By searching for unclaimed funds, you can catch potential identity theft early and take steps to protect yourself.
Searching for unclaimed funds is a simple and potentially rewarding process that everyone should avail themselves of. If you do find lost assets, if they are substantive or important like an inheritance or a forgotten retirement account, make sure you tell your financial advisor to best deal with the windfall.
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