How to find unclaimed property in California
There has been an entire industry created around helping people locate unclaimed assets. All too frequently, companies send blind emails or hard copy mail to people telling them that there may be assets held by a state government that rightfully belong to them. In some cases, this is accurate (e.g., that there are funds that belong to them). However, there is no need to pay to have someone identify or claim these funds for you.
There are several types of funds that may be held by the state on behalf of their rightful owner. This includes stocks, bonds and mutual funds, IRA accounts, contents of safe deposit boxes and even deposits that were made with utility companies. Unfortunately, some of these funds are forgotten by their owners for various reasons. The funds are then turned over to the state after a three year period of inactivity or when the institution holding the funds cannot locate the owner of the funds for at least three years.
Escheatment laws were changed in California in 2007. These important changes mean that companies who fail to make an effort to locate the rightful property owners may be fined for lack of action. These new rules may help consumers and others who have unclaimed property identify that property before it is turned over to the state.
Locating unclaimed property
Unclaimed property laws in California state that businesses, associations and insurance companies report property after they have held it for three years or more with no contact by the account holder. At that time, the property is turned over to the state. Owners can then use the Unclaimed property database to identify property. This is the first step to filing a claim.
Search results when property is found
If a search of the database returns results they will appear on the screen in this manner:
The letter codes on the right hand side identify the location of the property
«P» identifies property held by the state
«I» means the property is about to be sent to the state due to no contact
«N» means the company still holds the property
The identification number in the right hand column is a record number.
Filing a claim on identified property
Specific information regarding the property may be viewed by clicking on the hyper-linked identification number on the search screen. Doing so will result in this screen coming up:
Follow these steps for claims
To claim property that is rightfully yours, you will need to do the following:
- Retain the property ID number provided on the screen
Print out a property claim form (called an Affirmation)
You must SIGN the Claim Affirmation Form or it will be returned.
Provide all required identification(s) with the application
Mail the completed, signed Claim Affirmation Form and required documents