Don’t Lose Your Money!
Every year people in the United States “lose” millions of dollars of their own money by allowing their accounts to go into “dormancy”. This includes banking accounts, both checking and savings as well as dividend checks that go uncashed and brokerage accounts. The funds are turned over to the state in accordance with each states “unclaimed property” laws. The law in general is known as “escheatment”, which simply put is “the act of reporting and transferring property to a state when the rightful owner cannot be located” e.g. they have an invalid address OR…and this is important…”when an individual has not made contact during the “dormancy” period”. This also can include not having made any transaction during the “dormancy” period. You might well ask,,,what is the dormancy period ,and THE ANSWER IS…THAT VARIES BY STATE.
Therefore, your unclaimed property, in a word can be “escheated” (YES, THERE IS SUCH A VERB). How can you avoid this?
First, keep track of all banking/financial accounts. E.g. those opened by or for a minor, as well as brokerage accounts
Second, cash any checks you receive in a timely manner
Third, keep in touch with your bank, broker or agency who “handles” your funds. For example, many accounts are on line accounts and are linked to your current email address. if your email address changes, there is no way to contact you.
Fourth, access your accounts regularly. Set up a system to track your accounts and check in on a regular basis. Some accounts require a “transaction” even a small one, for example a $1.00 deposit or transfer. Ask your bank about their “dormancy” period.
Fifth, If you are legitimately contacted by a bank or broker for any update of address or contact information, do not ignore the request. But first, confirm that the bank or broker has actually made the the request/contact…do not be a victim of a scam.
Sixth, Since unclaimed property laws vary greatly from state to state, pay careful attention if: you have moved out of state or changed your address within the state; married or divorced and changed your name; or are managing an estate following a death.
Seventh, Prepare a will that details all of your assets. Keep it current. Your will should include all assets and the disposition of those assets. This is best handled by an attorney.
A site for those in Colorado is http://www.colorado.gov/treasury/gcp/faq.html – an excellent source of information about Colorado unclaimed property laws. FOR EXAMPLE, DID YOU KNOW?…”Safe deposit boxes become dormant and reportable to the State Treasury as unclaimed property three years after the rent has expired.”
Two other helpful sites are:
http://www.missingmoney.com and http://www.unclaimed.org
Please go to bottom of this page to read my disclaimer and the column about “How I Can Help You.
My website is: http://www.attorneybarbaradalvano.weebly.com for more information about Estate Planning and printable infographics.