Unclaimed assets in America, including unclaimed money assets, are all classified as unclaimed property. The law on what constitutes unclaimed money assets varies from state to state, but when there has been no transaction in regard to the money for an extended period of time (usually 3 years) and efforts to locate the owner of the money have failed, the funds become unclaimed money assets and are handed over to the state under the provision of the United States Unclaimed Property Law. This money is kept in the owners name and remains with the state until the owner, or his heirs, are located. There is normally no time limit for making a claim for unclaimed money assets.
Although the government has an umbrella classification of unclaimed property, it needs to be understood that unclaimed money assets refers to cash that is lying unclaimed, and not other items of value such as immovable property (land and houses), share certificates, contents of safe deposit boxes and so on. Unclaimed money assets usually are in the form of forgotten savings and checking accounts, uncashed checks, unused travelers checks which have lapsed, unredeemed money orders, unclaimed income tax refunds and unclaimed insurance payments and so on.
The total amount of unclaimed property in the US, both with the federal and state governments is estimated to be over $ 50 billion and a very large portion of this is in the form of unclaimed money assets. Estimates also show that 6 out of 10 Americans have unclaimed property, often unclaimed money assets, they are unaware of.
Each state and each federal agency maintains its own records of the unclaimed money assets in its possession. Since there is no central database for people to search for unclaimed money assets that may be due to them, they have to search for these assets in each state where they feel they could be lying. And these need not be states you have lived in. An inheritance due to you but unpaid, for any reason, will be lying with the state where the inheritance was bestowed.
To make the search for unclaimed money assets easier, the state unclaimed property programs have formed the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA). The Association’s website provides a single point of access to the unclaimed property (including unclaimed money assets) in each state. Not only does the Association help in the search, if you should find unclaimed money assets that belong to you, the websites of the states will guide you in the process of making a claim for the money.