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Understanding Unclaimed Funds

Unclaimed funds are money and other assets whose rightful owner cannot be located. Unclaimed funds are typically turned over to the government after a specific period of time has passed. To claim the funds or assets, the designated owner or beneficiary must file a claim; if belonging to an estate, it may require the claimant to prove their rights to the unclaimed property or funds.

There are various reasons why funds and assets go unclaimed. For example, a taxpayer may be owed a refund but the refund check became unclaimed because the taxpayer moved without updating his/her address with the tax authority. Bank failures can create a pool of unclaimed funds when customers are unaware of its closure or do not know who to contact to retrieve their funds. Unclaimed pensions are a common type of unclaimed funds, especially when a company closes and no immediate information is available about the administration of their pensions.

Types of unclaimed property include uncashed payroll checks, inactive stocks, court funds, dividends, checking and savings accounts, and estate proceeds. When property accounts go unclaimed, they are turned over to the state for reasons that may include the death of the account holder, a failure to register a forwarding address after changing residence, or simply forgetting about an account.