Wednesday, February 13, 2013

USA Unclaimed Property Balance hits $58 Billion yes $ 58 Billion

It looks like the unclaimed fund balances have recently  been updated by each State, federal and other organization as required in the United States as a new figure is being quoted for the total held. Ready....?
The new estimated value for unclaimed property is now ...$58 Billion.
Again, sad but true. That's a lot of money as it works out to approximately $186 per resident of the US. Imagine if that money was all put to use in the economy.

The list of assets included in what the US defines as unclaimed (or abandoned) property (or sometimes referred to as unclaimed assets or unclaimed funds) is quite wide ranging in the US and actually getting wider.

Common forms of unclaimed property in the US includes savings or chequing accounts, stocks, uncashed dividends or payroll checks, refunds, traveler's checks, trust distributions, unredeemed money orders or gift certificate/cards (in some states), insurance payments or refunds and life insurance policies, annuities, certificates of deposit, customer overpayments, utility security deposits, mineral royalty payments, and contents of safety deposit boxes.
Here's some further detail on this $58 Billion estimate:

·        $300 Million in pension benefits from employment owed to 38,000 individuals

·        $16 Billion worth of matured US savings bonds (more than 45 million bonds)

·        $153.3 Million in tax refunds that were not deliverable by the IRS

·        $1 Billion in unclaimed insurance policy proceeds

·        $41.7 Billion in unclaimed funds held by individual states.

This last figure of $41.7 Billion is worthy of some further explanation. .

While rules vary slightly between each state, specific types of property are considered as being ‘abandoned’ or unclaimed when there has been no activity for 1-5 years. At that point, all financial organizations or any organization holding such property or funds are required to turn them over to the State Treasury.

Each state then takes over the search for owners through websites, newspaper ads, and booths at Malls and events like State fairs and Exhibitions. While searching for the owners, the State can use those assets to fund government operations but the owner’s claim to the property remains intact. Of the $58 Billion in unclaimed funds that has been reported, $41.7 Billion is being held by individual States. .

"The money belongs to the owner in perpetuity. Even if the owner dies, then their heirs could come back and claim it," said Carolyn Atkinson, West Virginia's deputy treasurer for unclaimed property and a past president of National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.

More on this story:

To learn more about the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators and for a link to all State databases : NAUPA Website

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