Each year billions of dollars worth of unclaimed stock certificates, bank accounts, dividends, outstanding checks, and other proceeds are turned over to state tax commissions because the rightful owners could not be found.
Unclaimed property is any property for which there has been no activity generated by the account owner for a prolonged period of time. Account activity can include checking your balance, withdrawing funds or depositing funds. If no such activity occurs within a specified period of time, the property is presumed abandoned.
Holders are the current entities in possession of the property that has been unclaimed. Holders can include banking institutions, insurance companies, hospitals, business corporations, governmental entities, and merchants.
Once funds are submitted to the state commission by holders, they are held in a perpetual trust fund until the owner can be found or an heir claims ownership.
The duty to report and submit unclaimed property is triggered when there has been no owner generated activity for a specified period of time.
An owner or heir may recover the property by filing a claim with the state tax commission. To recover, the claimant must submit appropriate documentary evidence to establish his or her relationship with the reported owner. When the claims process has been completed and approved, the unclaimed property is given to the rightful claimant.
States take a proactive approach by implementing unclaimed property audits instead of waiting for the holders of unclaimed property to file reports and submit the property. For corporations, these unclaimed property audits can lead to financial liabilities and, in some ways, can be much more difficult than tax audits.
Reclaiming unclaimed property can sometimes be difficult and complicated. An experienced property lawyer can help you take the necessary steps to reclaim your property. A property attorney can also represent you if you need to go to court to reclaim your property.