There Are Billions in Unclaimed Assets Out There. Some Could Be Yours.

Estimates vary, but government agencies have tens of billions of dollars’ worth of bank accounts, insurance policies and other forgotten holdings.
Before his mother died in 2018 at the age of 84, Thomas G. Plante used some of his time on frequent visits to her home in Rhode Island to help get her estate in order.
Early on, he found a life insurance policy that a relative had bought for her in 1933, when she was born. Because his mother had always lived in Rhode Island, Mr. Plante searched the state’s unclaimed property website for other assets.
“I knew that if there was any money, that’s where it would be,” he said. “Once you start looking, you find — wow! — she had a bank account I didn’t know about.” He also found that she owned a few shares of stock in AT&T, SBC Communications and Brighthouse Life Insurance, and had a number of uncashed dividend checks.
The total value of her financial assets was modest, a little more than $10,000, but Mr. Plante, 59, said it was enough to give her a proper funeral, which was important to his mother, who was Catholic.
Mr. Plante’s mother was one of many people for whom government agencies hold tens of billions of dollars’ worth of bank accounts, insurance policies, stocks, bonds, jewelry and other unclaimed assets. The owners of those assets have died, moved without leaving a new address or simply lost track of their property.
No government agency tracks the value of all unclaimed assets throughout the country, but independent estimates, including for matured Treasury savings bonds, run as high as $80 billion. And the total has been growing faster than states can find owners or heirs.
In 2015, the most recent year for which complete statistics are available, state agencies returned $3.235 billion to the rightful owners, but the agencies received $7.763 billion in new assets. Gift cards are a fairly recent source of revenue in some states, which claim the value on those cards when they aren’t redeemed by the recipient. (In other states, the value on the card goes back to whoever issued it.)
States and federal agencies publicize their efforts to deliver unclaimed assets to the correct party, but it can be challenging for heirs to establish ownership after the death of the named owner, whether it is a parent, a partner, a sibling or a spouse. Careful record-keeping by people with assets and their families, as well as improved access to government records, can make it easier for survivors to find their property and claim it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>