No one knowingly wants to leave money on the table. And, yet, residents of the United States have a lot of unclaimed cash sitting out there in the ether just waiting to be recovered.
Yesterday, I took the required steps to claim a $26.01 insurance premium refund that dated back to 2012. Situations like switching employers, getting credits from insurance companies, abandoning bank and retirement accounts, and not collecting your tax refund all contribute to a national pot of unclaimed cash in excess of $58 billion.
So, it is highly likely that you may have unclaimed money and not even know it! According to research conducted by Simple Thrifty Living, they found that unclaimed money exists in every state varying greatly in the amount by state. New York, Delaware, and Arkansas are reported with the highest average unclaimed funds per person ranging in value from $370 to $700.
While some unclaimed money remains available to claim forever, there are certain types of funds in certain states that are time-sensitive. Therefore, it can’t hurt to make sure you don’t have unclaimed cash out there so you can act swiftly. Here is how to find out if you have unclaimed money.
The types of unclaimed money you’re looking for
Unclaimed money comes in lots of shapes and sizes. Two of the most common types are forgotten retirement assets and savings accounts. Other types of unclaimed money you may want to look for include:
- Forgotten checking accounts
- Life insurance policies
- Other insurance policies
- Tax refunds
- Inherited estates
- US savings bonds
- Social security funds
- IRS accounts
- VA benefits
It’s worth knowing that there is no centrally-held database of unclaimed assets, which means you need to do a little research to find yours. Fortunately, in the age of the Internet, discovering your unclaimed money is easier than ever.
How to find your unclaimed money
A good starting point for accessing unclaimed funds is to make a note of some basic details. For example, list the names you’ve held, including any potential nicknames and variations of your name where you may find accounts. Next, list where you’ve lived according to your state and your specific address.
Unclaimed tax refunds and other government funds are particularly common as the IRS may send the check to an address where the person no longer lives. The IRS uses a website called Where’s My Refund to help taxpayers locate missing funds.
Each state has a database that you can search for unclaimed property as well. Check unclaimed.org for any state funds in each state you’ve lived in. Much like the IRS, the U.S. Treasury will occasionally attempt to pay savings bonds that are then returned. This means the U.S. Treasury is worth looking into too.
How you claim your unclaimed money will vary according to where you believe it may be. When it comes to the IRS, state programs, and the U.S. Treasury, you may be able to complete an online form and then the funds can be returned to you.
Previous Employers and Abandoned Retirement Accounts and Pensions
If you participated in company-sponsored retirement plans and didn’t take your retirement assets with you when you switched employers, you may have retirement benefits waiting to be claimed. You can always go back and contact the plan sponsor of your abandoned retirement plan or reference the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits.
Old Financial Institutions
Is there a chance that you have a bank account that’s dormant? Or did you bank with an institution that later collapsed? Recovering funds from old bank accounts can sometimes feel tricky, but it’s achievable.
There are a couple of ways to track down old funds. If you were meticulous enough to keep hold of old paperwork, try looking for old statements and using the bank’s contact details to reach out to them. Otherwise, you can turn to research tools provided for your individual state.
In a hectic world where your finances are rarely held centrally, losing sight of unclaimed funds is easy. When those funds start to gather and they remain untouched, you’re missing out on money that you could put toward your immediate and long-term financial goals like paying down debt, paying off student loans, saving toward retirement, and building up your rainy day fund.
Overall, locating and obtaining unclaimed money is possible with the right amount of effort. You just need to know where to look and persist accordingly!
HANDY, DANDY & ACTIONABLE MONEY-SAVING TIP:
I am super excited to offer readers of the FRANKly SPEAKING Financial Planning Blog access to Future Map Financial’s secure Financial Planning Tool. This free tool will help you:
- Create financial goals.
- Review your cash flow history by aggregating your financial accounts (i.e. checking acct, savings acct, credit card accts, student loan accts, etc.). The account aggregation tool pulls in all your financial transactions for the past three months and updates daily.
- Establish and monitor your budget.
Access the secure Financial Planning Tool by clicking HERE
NEXT FRANKLY SPEAKING POST…
Be sure to visit us again in two weeks for the next issue of FRANKly Speaking where you’ll learn how to pay off student loan debt FAST!
As always, I invite you to reach out to me – in real life – with any comments, feedback, or questions! [email protected]. Are you ready to take the first step towards securing your financial future? If so, schedule your free 45-minute no-obligation consultation with me today. Schedule Your Consultation with Frank.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for informational purposes. None of the information provided in this article is intended as investment, tax, accounting or legal advice, as an offer or solicitation of an offer to buy or sell, or as an endorsement of any company, security, fund, or other securities or non-securities offering. Please consult with your accountant, finance professional, and/or legal counsel regarding your specific circumstance. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Frank Shields, and all rights are reserved. Read the full Disclaimer.