Want Some Free Money? Check Out the State of Texas Unclaimed Property Program Website.
At a recent estate planning seminar, we had a speaker from the Texas Comptroller’s Office on the State of Texas Unclaimed Property Program. The speaker told our room of approximately 300 attorneys that at least half of us would find unclaimed property under our name. We doubted it, but we all got on online and…well over half of us did have unclaimed property! We are now spreading the word. Go online to www.claimittexas.org. If you have lived out of state or if your family has lived out of state, you can also check the national website at www.missingmoney.com. These are legitimate websites and chances are good that you or your family members have unclaimed money to recover.
Generally, an entity is required to remit unclaimed property to the Unclaimed Property Program if it remains unclaimed for more than three years. The types of unclaimed property can include things like bank or retirement accounts, contents of safe deposit boxes, gift cards, insurance proceeds, utility deposits, or unclaimed wages. For example, when I plugged in my personal name, I found utility deposits from twenty years ago. Several family members’ names came up under my search, and I was able to call them with the good news.
Making a claim is easy. You make the claim online, and if the amount is under $5,000, it can usually be automatically approved with a copy of your Driver’s License and proof of your Social Security Number. There is no deadline to make these claims. Even for people who have died, the heirs at law or beneficiaries of a will can collect on these claims with the appropriate documentation. As attorneys in a probate proceeding, we can assist the executor in searching for and obtaining these unclaimed assets.
The State does not invest these accounts, so the amount is the same today as it was when the State acquired the account. If $20,000 was acquired in 1973, there is still $20,000 in the account to be claimed. There is currently $4.5 billion in unclaimed property held in the Unclaimed Property Program. In 2017, there was $690 million received into the program and $281 million returned to the rightful owners. The Comptroller’s Office suggests checking the website annually.