Eleven billion — with a "b" — is a lot of lost money for even the population of a large state such as New York to accrue. How can this be?
Easy. In Brooklyn and across New York State, people sometimes overpay their utilities bills, forget about a deposit, or don't bother to close out a bank account that's not worth much when they move.
Maybe you appeared in Uncle Joe's will but never knew about it.
Some of the unclaimed assets are hardly worth the bother — they're worth just a few cents. Still,it's smart to check once a year. In 2011, NY State's largest unclaimed asset was a $1.7 million estate — unclaimed. Over a half million accounts were claimed and processed in that year.
One third of this money was from abandoned bank accounts.
It's free and easy to see whether you have money you never even knew about that's sitting in a NY State account. How can you find out?
What Kinds of Money Goes Unclaimed?New York State's Office of Unclaimed Funds, which is part of the state Comptroller's Office, receives unclaimed funds from utilities, banks and other sources when those institutions have money for you, but can't find you. After a period of time, these institutions are required by law to submit the money to the state.
The state office is the guardian of money that's unclaimed from:
- Savings and checking accounts
- Uncashed checks you may have written
- Deposits of all kinds: for rentals, utilities
- Insurance benefits and policies
- Safe deposit box contents
- Mortgage insurance refunds
- Stocks, dividends, mutual funds, CDs, trust funds
- Estate proceeds
You'd be surprised at what people inadvertently leave behind when they move jobs or homes, or when there's a death in the family. And, with so much mobility in Brooklyn — new people moving in, people leaving the borough, getting married, and moving from one apartment to another in different parts of Brooklyn — there are likely hundreds and possibly thousands of individuals who have some funds being held by NY State, waiting to be claimed.
How to Determine if NY State Has Any Unclaimed Funds Belonging to YouIt's easy as pie to see if you have funds in your name that are unclaimed. Go to the Office of Unclaimed Funds website , and just search for your name on the state wide database. If you think you have unclaimed funds, and can't find a record, pick up the phone and call 1-800-221-9311 during normal working hours. (See the website for more details.)
When Should You Claim Your Lost Funds? Are There Deadlines or Fees?Remarkably, no, there's no deadline, and no fee for this service.
Here's what the NY State Office of Unclaimed Funds says, "New York State holds unclaimed funds in trust - with the State Comptroller as custodian - until the funds are claimed by the owner or heir. The State never takes ownership of the money. It is held for you until you claim it. If at any time you can prove this money is yours, the Comptroller will return it to you without charge."
What’s the Best Way to Submit a Claim?New York State's Office of Unclaimed Funds suggests that you make your claim online. It's easier than mail — and, faster, as online claims are paid in 10 business days or less but mail submissions can take three months to process. Check New York State's Office of Unclaimed Funds website for more information on how to submit a claim.
Most Claims are Worth Less than $100Even for those who do discover that they've got unclaimed funds in their names, the dollar amounts are relatively small. The majority of recognized claims are under $100, with about 40% of all the claimed funds valued at over $100. Still, whether you're recovering $25 or $250, it's still found money — and it's yours.
This is a wonderful government service, with no fees, no hidden clauses. It exists simply to restore lost property to its rightful owners. Except in their dreams, most people don't find huge wads of cash just waiting for them. Maybe this'll be your lucky year.
(* Correction: The original on 10/07/2011 incorrectly stated the figure as $701 million. It was corrected on 10/08/2011.)