Every month our firm completes an unclaimed property search for our clients. It’s always gratifying to hear from our clients after they’ve received our notification that an extra $100 is out there waiting on them.
Unclaimed property includes any accounts, stocks, uncashed dividends, payroll checks, refunds, unredeemed money orders, insurance payments, CDs, overpayments, mineral royalty payments, etc., that have had no activity or contact for one year or longer.
The state of Kansas is currently holding more than $350 million belonging to Kansans as reported by the Kansas state treasurer, Jake LaTurner. While that seems like a stunning amount, the state of Missouri is holding $988 million in unclaimed property as reported by the office of Missouri state treasurer.
This may lead you to immediately ask yourself, “How do I know if I have unclaimed property?”
The process to searching for unclaimed property is actually very simple. Each state has an unclaimed property program typically operated by the state treasurer.
The goal of the program is to return the unclaimed property to consumers because unclaimed property laws exist to protect consumers by ensuring money owed to them is returned rather than remaining permanently with financial institutions, business associations, governments and other entities.
State of Kansas: https://kansascash.ks.gov/up_search.php
State of Missouri: https://treasurer.mo.gov/UnclaimedProperty/Main.aspx
While searching for unclaimed property, be sure to consider the following:
Look for any previous address you’ve lived at, which may include searching for unclaimed properties in other states as well.
Search for any names you may have previously used (a legally changed name, maiden name, etc.)
If property is located under your name, submit a claim with your State Treasurer’s office. This is typically completed online at the same website referenced above. You should then receive notification (likely via e-mail) with updates on the status of your claim.
There are also a few sites that may let you search more than one state at a time, depending on your state’s participation, although typically searching locally is the most efficient way to locate assets. Other websites that may be helpful in searching are:
While unclaimed property is a great place to start, there are certain assets that may not be reported to your State Treasurer’s unclaimed property program. So while you’re searching, it may be worthwhile to look into these sources for unclaimed funds as well:
Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Search for federal tax refunds by visiting https://www.irs.gov/refunds.
Credit Unions: Search for funds that were housed at a federally insured credit union that failed. You can search here: https://www.ncua.gov/support-services/unclaimed-deposits.
Retirement Benefits: Search the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, also referred to as the PBGC, (https://www.pbgc.gov/wr/missing-participants) for any pension benefits from companies that went under. You can also visit the Employee Benefits Security Administration, or EBSA.
(https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ebsa/key-topics/retirement) to look for retirement funds.
Veterans’ Funds: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has a search tool (https://www.insurance.va.gov/UnclaimedFunds), which allows veterans (and family) to search for unclaimed insurance funds.
There are individuals/companies referred to as “asset locators” who may contact you if you have unclaimed property. While they may be correct that you do have unclaimed property, they typically charge a fee to claim and return this property to you. I’d encourage you to contact your State Treasurer’s office before engaging in this service, even if you ultimately decide it is necessary.
Kristen Buchman, is a Certified Financial Planner professional and a member of the Financial Planning Association of Greater Kansas City. At The Trust Company, an independent wealth management firm with four offices in Kansas and Missouri, she is passionate about helping clients attain their financial goals.