Found money is a gift. And with the internet, it’s easier than ever to find it.
Unclaimed assets may be sitting somewhere in your name, waiting for you to find and claim them. With some simple online searches, you can look for unclaimed money in seconds and possibly find a windfall.
Unclaimed money can come from a family member who has died. They may have a life insurance policy, retirement benefit and other policies you may not know about that are legally yours as an heir. Here are some resources for finding missing, unclaimed money:
Two websites offer free, multi-state searches for unclaimed property:
- National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, or NAUPA.
- Missing Money, a service endorsed by NAUPA.
Both are simple to use. You only enter your first and last name, and the state where you live—a free government search for missing money in your name is done in seconds.
Missing Money is a database of governmental unclaimed property records. They include bank accounts, safe-deposit box contents, stocks, mutual funds, unwashed checks and wages, insurance policies, CDs, utility deposits, and escrow accounts.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has a free database to search for bank accounts or safe deposit boxes in your name or the name of a loved one who has died.
Those overstuffed filing cabinets and drawers that you or a relative have been meaning to organize for years may be full of old paper statements from banks, life insurance companies and other businesses that may be holding money owed to you.
Anything that was reported to the IRS on a tax form could be an area where unclaimed money could be hiding. Also, be on the lookout for pay stubs, pension deduction and 401(k) contributions. They may show if a former employee owes a benefit.
An Old Pension Plan
If your former employee offered a pension plan but the company has gone out of business, you may have unclaimed pension benefits waiting for you.
Contact your former employer if you can find it. The company should also be looking for you. If it can’t find you, the pension money goes to the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp., a government agency that protects retirement income.
Go to the PBGC’s unclaimed pensions database to see if you’re on its list from your former employer or as a beneficiary.
Life Insurance Policy
There isn’t a national database of life insurance policies. The Insurance Information Institute has 12 ways to make finding life insurance documents for a deceased relative easier. They include searching for insurance-related documents, contacting financial advisors, contacting previous employers and contacting state insurance departments, such as through the National Association of Insurance Commissioners Life Insurance Company Location System.