How to search for forgotten money loved ones left behind

Published 9:50am Friday, July 27, 2012

Dear Savvy Senior,
I’ve heard that there are resources available that can help people look for lost or forgotten money left behind by their diseased relatives. When my mother and father passed away their financial affairs were in such a mess, I’m wondering if there was anything I overlooked. What can you tell me?
- Searching Son

Dear Searching,
Lost or forgotten money is actually quite common in the U.S. In fact, according National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, nearly $33 billion in unclaimed assets is sitting in state treasuries and other agencies just waiting to be found.
These unclaimed assets are from some 117 million accounts that are inactive or whose owners or their heirs cannot be located. Unclaimed assets can include things like lost or forgotten investments or bank accounts, Social Security payments, utility deposits, tax refunds, life insurance proceeds, stocks, un-cashed dividends and more.
This typically happens because of a change of address (the owner moved), a name change (the owner got married or divorced), or the owner dies and the estate was unaware of the money or the heirs could not be located. By law, companies and financial institutions that can’t find the owner or their next of kin within two to five years must turn the property over to the state where it’s held indefinitely.
Where to search
It’s very possible that your deceased parents, or you, have some unclaimed assets out there and you don’t even know it. To start your quest, go to or, both of which contain records from most state unclaimed property programs.
Check every state in which you or your parents have lived, worked or conducted business. Also search using maiden names and any previous names, as well as middle names and middle initials. Every state can tell you immediately if your parents or you have some unclaimed property, as well as how to go about collecting it. If you don’t have a computer, you can call the state treasurer’s office for assistance.

Editor's Picks

Small Business Saturday Holiday Fair at Stearns Gym

This Saturday, Nov. 28, around the country is often observed as Small Business Saturday. Polk County residents are encouraged to support your local merchants and ... Read more