Tips to Avoid Your Property from Becoming Unclaimed Property

Lock down your moneyBy Kimberly DeCarrera

You've seen the news and maybe even found some unclaimed property in your name. Now, you want to avoid any of your other accounts or money from becoming unclaimed property and being sent to the state. Below are five tips to protect your money.

Cash All Checks That You Receive
It may sound obvious, but cash all the checks that you receive. With most people getting paid via direct deposit, you may not get to the bank to deposit checks very often. Checks, particularly small checks, may sit around for awhile, collecting dust. Make sure that these get to the bank in a timely manner!

Notify Companies When You Move
The first and foremost way to avoid your money becoming unclaimed property and ending up in state coffers is to keep in touch with the companies you do business with! Notify companies of your new address when you move, including employers, banks, insurance companies, utilities, and others. Forward your mail with the US Post Office so that you will not miss mail during the move.

Keep Track of Your Accounts for Family Members
A lot of money becomes unclaimed when you die, including large life insurance policies. Make sure that you keep a list of all accounts and policies in a place your family can find, even if you do not have an estate plan or will. If you contact an attorney to prepare an estate plan or will for you, the lawyer may agree to keep this information in your file if you do not feel comfortable leaving it with family members.

Close Old Accounts
Accounts become unclaimed property when companies lose track of you and there is no activity in your account for a certain period of time. If you no longer intend to use an account, then close it and remove all money from it. This will prevent both service fees and unclaimed property! Don't forget about any safe deposit boxes that you may have.

Watch Your Mail!
Most states require companies to send letters to you before they report property as unclaimed property. These letters, which we often refer to as due diligence letters, ask you to respond to keep property active or to claim the money before it is sent to the state. Respond to these letters as it is often quicker and easier to get the money from the company that from a state.

If your property has become unclaimed property, check our tips for searching and finding your unclaimed property!