California’s unclaimed property: How to see if you are owed money, make a claim

Peninsula Premier Admin

Have you checked lately to see if you’re owed unclaimed money in California? Were there valuables you left at a bank years ago and forgot about? The California state controller’s office maintains a system for people to search for unclaimed property by name and safeguards billions of dollars worth of properties until the rightful owners can be found. “We’ve heard that as many as one in three people that visit the website find unclaimed property,” said Jennifer Hanson from the State Controller’s Office. Each year companies send over unclaimed property to the state and items are added daily to the state’s searchable database as they are processed. “In the vast majority of those cases it’s a hundred or less sometimes, but in some cases it is enough to be a mortgage payment,” Hanson said.The controller’s office recommends that people check the site at least once a year. It was able to reunite 535,342 properties with their owners during the 2020-21 fiscal year. “We reunited over $330 million with its owners last year alone,” Hanson said.“It’s definitely frustrating,” added Ken Parham from the State Controller’s Office. “You know there are things that we have more important than valuable items. There are family documents and very personal items that we want people to get back.”Here’s more on what to know about searching for your unclaimed property and making a claim.Why does the state of California have financial assets in my name? Financial institutions and other businesses are required by law to report each year and deliver “property” to the controller’s office if there hasn’t been activity on someone’s account or contact with its owner for a period of time, which is generally about three years. Sometimes the account’s owner moves and forgets to leave a forwarding address for a company to send them a check for what they’re owed. Other times the person dies. What kind of property goes unclaimed? These are the most common types of unclaimed property, according to the state. Bank accounts and safe deposit box contentsStocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividendsUncashed cashier’s checks and money ordersCertificates of depositMatured or terminated insurance policiesEstatesMineral interests and royalty paymentsTrust funds and escrow accountsUtility account depositsThe unclaimed property program does not deal with real estate. How much lost money are we talking about? About 64 million properties are worth about $11.2 billion, as of the 2020-21 fiscal year, according to the controller’s office. The office took in about 5.7 million new properties valued at $1.3 billion just for that one year. Where can you search for your unclaimed property? Click here. The state offers an easy to look up if you have property to claim. What happens before these assets are given to the state? Companies are first required to try to contact the owners before transferring the assets to the controller’s office. The controller’s office then sends its own notices to property owners, allowing more time for the owner to try to get their property back. Here’s an example of what such letters look like. For the previous fiscal year, the controller mailed out 1.5 million notification letters to owners of property valued at $50 or more. How do I claim unclaimed property? Can I make a claim for a relative who died?Owners can search and claim their property for free but will need to verify their ownership. People can call 800-992-4647 with questions. People can also call the same number if they think the state has their property but they can’t see it listed on the website. Heirs, trustees and other executors can also file claims for owners who have died. Some companies and people charge a fee to search for unclaimed property and file claims on behalf of owners or heirs. These “investigators,” as they are officially called, by law can’t charge a fee greater than 10% of the value of the property that is returned.| MORE LIKE THIS | Northern California counties have millions of dollars in unclaimed money, as well. See if any belongs to you-KCRA 3’s Jason Marks contributed to this report.

Have you checked lately to see if you’re owed unclaimed money in California? Were there valuables you left at a bank years ago and forgot about?

The California state controller’s office maintains a system for people to search for unclaimed property by name and safeguards billions of dollars worth of properties until the rightful owners can be found.

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“We’ve heard that as many as one in three people that visit the website find unclaimed property,” said Jennifer Hanson from the State Controller’s Office.

Some items include cards left behind in safe deposit boxes.

KCRA

Some items include cards left behind in safe deposit boxes. 

Each year companies send over unclaimed property to the state and items are added daily to the state’s searchable database as they are processed.

“In the vast majority of those cases it’s a hundred or less sometimes, but in some cases it is enough to be a mortgage payment,” Hanson said.

The controller’s office recommends that people check the site at least once a year. It was able to reunite 535,342 properties with their owners during the 2020-21 fiscal year.

“We reunited over $330 million with its owners last year alone,” Hanson said.

“It’s definitely frustrating,” added Ken Parham from the State Controller’s Office. “You know there are things that we have more important than valuable items. There are family documents and very personal items that we want people to get back.”

Here’s more on what to know about searching for your unclaimed property and making a claim.

Why does the state of California have financial assets in my name?

Financial institutions and other businesses are required by law to report each year and deliver “property” to the controller’s office if there hasn’t been activity on someone’s account or contact with its owner for a period of time, which is generally about three years.

Sometimes the account’s owner moves and forgets to leave a forwarding address for a company to send them a check for what they’re owed. Other times the person dies.

What kind of property goes unclaimed?

These are the most common types of unclaimed property, according to the state.

  • Bank accounts and safe deposit box contents
  • Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends
  • Uncashed cashier’s checks and money orders
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Matured or terminated insurance policies
  • Estates
  • Mineral interests and royalty payments
  • Trust funds and escrow accounts
  • Utility account deposits

The unclaimed property program does not deal with real estate.

Jewelry that has been turned over to the state.

KCRA

Jewelry that has been turned over to the state.

How much lost money are we talking about?

About 64 million properties are worth about $11.2 billion, as of the 2020-21 fiscal year, according to the controller’s office.

The office took in about 5.7 million new properties valued at $1.3 billion just for that one year.

Items left to the state

Where can you search for your unclaimed property?

Click here. The state offers an easy to look up if you have property to claim.

What happens before these assets are given to the state?

Companies are first required to try to contact the owners before transferring the assets to the controller’s office. The controller’s office then sends its own notices to property owners, allowing more time for the owner to try to get their property back. Here’s an example of what such letters look like. For the previous fiscal year, the controller mailed out 1.5 million notification letters to owners of property valued at $50 or more.

How do I claim unclaimed property? Can I make a claim for a relative who died?

Owners can search and claim their property for free but will need to verify their ownership. People can call 800-992-4647 with questions. People can also call the same number if they think the state has their property but they can’t see it listed on the website.

Heirs, trustees and other executors can also file claims for owners who have died.

Some companies and people charge a fee to search for unclaimed property and file claims on behalf of owners or heirs. These “investigators,” as they are officially called, by law can’t charge a fee greater than 10% of the value of the property that is returned.

| MORE LIKE THIS | Northern California counties have millions of dollars in unclaimed money, as well. See if any belongs to you


-KCRA 3’s Jason Marks contributed to this report.

Contributed by local news sources

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