You've seen it on the news: an ordinary citizen is surprised with a check that somebody, somewhere owed them. In recent years, unclaimed property has become a hot topic with websites springing up to help you find money you didn't even know you had. Unfortunately, some of these websites charge a fee to find your money. The good news is, you don't have to pay somebody else to search for unclaimed property--you can do it yourself.
Here is all you need to know about unclaimed property in Tennessee and how to claim it. Not a Tennessee resident? Scroll down to the bottom of the article for information on finding unclaimed property all over the United States.
What Is Unclaimed Property?
Unclaimed property is not physical property. Instead, it is assets such as cash, stocks, or bonds that have been abandoned. Examples of this include a payroll check you never picked up, a forgotten bank account, a refund from a deposit, or unpaid insurance benefits.
If, after a certain period of time, a company is unable to locate you to give you your money, state law requires that company to turn over the asset to the Unclaimed Property Division. This government office searches for the rightful owner while keeping the asset for safe keeping until it is claimed.
Your property will never "expire." There is no time limit to claim an asset and in fact, a legal heir may even claim the property after your death.
How to See If You Have Unclaimed Property
If you are or have been a resident of Tennessee, the state's Department of Treasury runs a website for their Unclaimed Property Division. Simply enter your information into their search form. If you find unclaimed property belonging to you, you will begin the claim process.
Once you find your name in the system, you can initiate the claim process online. From there, you will be asked to submit a signed and notarized form, along with proof of your identity. You could be asked for a copy of your photo ID, your Social Security Number, proof of a former address, or proof of ownership of the property.
If you have ever lived, worked, or done business in another state, you will need to check with each one to see if you might have unclaimed property there. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators has a website that provides links to the Unclaimed Property Divisions for each state as well as some provinces in Canada. Their sister site, MissingMoney.com, allows you to search multiple states at one time.