Abandoned Personal Property Laws in Georgia

Provisions found in Georgia's Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act govern what happens to abandoned personal property. The act dictates what persons or businesses with abandoned property -- referred to as "holders" -- must do with the property and the procedures for transferring the property to the state.


The act's provisions cover what type of property is subject to the laws, how long the holder can keep the property and what the holder must do once the holding period has passed. Various holding periods defined in the legislation establish hold times by property type. The law's paperwork and reporting requirements define what steps the holder must take to relieve himself of the legal responsibility for the property.


Various types of property fall under the Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act, such as bank accounts, employee paychecks, gift certificates and safe deposit boxes. The act also cover personal property left to an heir or will beneficiary by an estate of a deceased person, as well as stocks and bonds. Abandoned overpayments to creditors, insurers and service providers, such as utility companies, for old accounts fall under the act.


The length a holder must keep the property before transferring it to Georgia varies by property type. Employers hold unclaimed paychecks for one year from the pay date, but businesses must hold money orders for seven years. The contents of a safe deposit box are held for two years after the box is opened, and traveler's checks are held for 15 years after the date of issue. Money from the sale of a company is held for one year after the date of the company's sale. All other types of property typically have a five-year hold period.


The holder must contact the last known owner of the unclaimed property at her last address two to three months before he is required by law to turn the property over to Georgia. If he does not hear from the owner before the deadline, he prepares a report listing the property and the last known owner and her address for the transfer of the property to the Georgia Department of Revenue. The department holds the property, and the owner can claim the property by contacting the department and submitting the proper identification and forms for retrieval.