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A few months ago, I helped a client complete paperwork to register some shares of Duke Energy in her name and was surprised to learn that the transfer agent had turned the shares over to the state as lost property. That may have been one of the best things that could have happened to this client. While speaking with the Office of the State Treasurer, the area responsible for lost and unclaimed property, we discovered that they were holding items totaling over $15,000 for this person. This amount included un-cashed paychecks, payments from a few closed bank accounts and of course the shares of the security.
Later, I decided that I would do a search under my name and am glad that I did. As luck would have it, the state was holding over $600 of my money. The bulk of it was for a refund that was sent to an address where I hadn't lived at since 2004. I had filed a change of address with the Post Office but those are effective for only six months, and this mail came after the deadline had passed.
The search is a very simple process. You can do a search for your state's office of lost or unclaimed property, and once found enter your name. In Connecticut, the website is Connecticut State Treasury Unclaimed Property List . The directions to file a claim are easy and if you are not comfortable with submitting the information online, you can speak to a representative by telephone. They will prepare the claim forms and send them to you for your review and signature. I did have to provide copies of some documents that showed that I indeed lived at that address, but that was relatively easy to do. An old utility or personal property tax bill was sufficient.
I was also required to have my signature notarized which may be an inconvenience, but not a hardship. All in all, I doubt if I spent more than an hour completing the requirements and submitting the paperwork. Getting $600 for an hour's work seems like a great deal.
The only caveat that I would add is to make certain that you are accessing the information through your state's website. States have the following at the end of the web address - state.xx.us. The xx is the abbreviation of your state.
I am going to add "Check for Lost Property" to my annual list of things to do. If the state is holding money, then I can claim it. If not, then all that I have wasted is two minutes of my time.
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- unclaimed property