You may assume that funds left untouched in bank or brokerage accounts are active. However, the escheatment process allows financial institutions to report unclaimed personal property, such as mutual funds, to the state. Accounts are inactive if no withdrawals, deposits or other transactions were made within a three- to five-year period, depending on state law. If the bank cannot contact the owner or if it does not have an updated address, then they must send the funds to the state government, which claims ownership. During escheatment, the state maintains bookkeeping entries of abandoned property or funds, and compiles them into an escheatment list. Escheatment information can be found online, usually at the website of the state's treasury or revenue departments.
Contact your state's Department of Revenue or Department of Treasury online, by phone or by e-mail if you discover or suspect that you have unclaimed personal property. State-specific rules apply for claiming the funds, usually requiring that you prove identity.
1. Find state-specific escheatment information online.
2. Contact the state or a commercial escheatment provider if you find unclaimed property.
3. Take steps to prevent escheatment from affecting your accounts in the first place.
Find escheatment information or services onlineLook for your state's escheatment list to see if you or a relative has unclaimed savings accounts, CDs or safe deposit boxes. Other government agencies also provide escheatment information.
Financial Management Service, which is affiliated with the United States Department of the Treasury, also provides information on unclaimed property. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, better known as the FDIC, also gives consumers an opportunity to search for undelivered or uncashed dividend checks.
Contact the state escheatment directory or an escheatment firm to reclaim your fundsVisit the state's website, or contact the appropriate department by phone or e-mail, to learn about the rules for claiming abandoned or unclaimed property. There are also private firms that provide escheatment services, but be aware that some of these companies may charge a fee.
Learn to protect your money from state escheatment lawsAvoid the hassle of reclaiming your bank accounts, investments and other proceeds by keeping them active
- Once you prove that you're the original owner of savings accounts, stocks, bonds or insurance proceeds, the state pays you the amount equivalent to the value of that account when it entered escheatment, minus interest.