What Is Unclaimed Property?
Unclaimed property is defined as property that has been abandoned by the owner. It can be intangible property such as bank accounts and security investments, but may also be tangible property such as items stored in a safe deposit box. Businesses, other than banks, can have unclaimed property in the form of uncashed payroll or vendor checks, customer overpayments or security deposits. For accounts to be considered unclaimed, they need to have no activity generated or contact with the owner for one year or longer as determined individually by each state. A company who holds unclaimed property must try to contact the owner with due diligence to return the property.
If the property cannot be returned to the owner by the holding company, it is required to be reported and remitted to the appropriate state for custodial purposes until claimed by the owner. The state the property gets remitted to is determined based on the owner’s last known address. The state then holds the property with the purpose of returning it to the proper owner. In the case of tangible property, many states put the property up for auction and then keep the acquired funds to return to the owner. Currently billions of dollars are being held by state run unclaimed property programs, just waiting to be returned to the rightful owners. There is no time limit within which to make a claim; typically even heirs can collect this property. Unified Unclaimed Property Act
Although each state has its own unclaimed property program, most have enacted a version of the Unified Unclaimed Property Act (UUPA). This program was enacted by the federal government to create uniformity over the handling of unclaimed property.