Unclaimed property typically refers to money that has not been claimed for at least a year. This might include unclaimed tax refunds; money you have at a financial institution, such as a savings account; or money owed to you by a company, such as a deposit on your utility account. Each state has an unclaimed property law that gives instructions about turning forgotten money over to an unclaimed property office. The majority of states will hold onto the funds until the owner is found. In the case of physical property, most states will hold an auction and then hold the proceeds of the sales to be claimed by the owner.
Make a list of all names the property could be registered under. This might include your current first and last names, your first and last names with your full middle name, your first and last names with your middle initial, and, if a woman, your maiden name. Add to the list spelling variations of your first and last names. For instance, if you opened an account over the phone, the person taking the information might have heard Susan instead of Susanne. If your first and last names could both be first names, such as Steven Robert, your first and last name might be transposed.
Make a list of all states you have lived in or which you might have property in. If you lived and worked in Virginia your entire life, Virginia would be the logical state to search. However, if you had relatives in other states, you might want to search those states as well. For example, a great-aunt might have named you as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy or a retirement account.
Enter each combination of name and state into a free web site such as Missing Money. If, based upon the information returned by the search, you believe there is money that belongs to you, follow the instructions. In many cases you will be directed to the website for the state's controller's office where you will find that state's specific requirements for claiming the money.
Diane Stevens' professional experience started in 1970 with a computer programming position. Beginning in 1985, running her own business gave her extensive experience in personal and business finance. Her writing appears on Orbitz's Travel Blog and other websites. Stevens holds a Bachelor of Science in physics from the State University of New York at Albany.