By Robyn A. Friedman
The State of Florida is currently holding over $1 billion in assets waiting to be reunited with their rightful owners. Does any of this unclaimed property belong to you?
It’s easy to check. Just search the Bureau of Unclaimed Property website, at FLTreasureHunt.org. And, if you discover any assets listed there in your name, they can be claimed at any time and at no cost.
“It can be baffling to think that a person could simply forget that they have a savings account or a monetary deposit that’s owed back to them,” says Ashley Carr, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Financial Services. “But it happens, and it happens more often than people realize.”
According to Carr, there are over 800,000 claimable accounts in the state’s database —valued at over $212 million — held for residents of Broward. In Palm Beach County, there are more than 500,000 claimable accounts, valued at nearly $140 million.
How does your money end up in state coffers? It could be that $50 deposit from a now-closed utility account, or $1,000 from a forgotten savings account. Most of the assets come from dormant accounts in banks, insurance and utility companies, as well as securities and trust holdings. More than just cash, there’s also tangible property —watches, jewelry, coins, currency, stamps and other miscellaneous items — from abandoned safe deposit boxes.
“Life gets busy, and it’s easy to lose track of paperwork,” Carr says. “Perhaps you moved, and your last paycheck never found its way to the new address. Family members pass away, and while you think you’ve settled all of their accounts, you may never have known that they secured a safety deposit box years ago.”
Carr says that Floridians have a one in five chance of discovering an account in their name.
For those who have lived in other states, the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators maintains a website at naupa.org that allows users to click on any state for information on its unclaimed program.
One important note: There are private companies out there that may contact you by mail to offer to reunite you with your unclaimed property for a fee. That’s not necessary.
The State of Florida, through FLTreasureHunt.org, allows you to reclaim your assets for free. In fact, over the past four and a half years, the state has returned over $1 billion to Floridians. Says Carr, “We’re only getting started.”