We all lose things. Our car keys, our wallet, our favorite pen - even money. Most of the time with a little searching, you find what you lost. You may even find that lost money in the pocket of a coat you haven’t worn since last year. But how do you find things you didn’t realize you lost? After all, we don’t lose things on purpose, do we?
It may seem hard to believe, but people frequently lose track of financial assets, or even property in a safe deposit boxes. That’s where the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Division comes in. Once these assets go a period of time without the owner taking some sort of action to keep accounts active, businesses in West Virginia are required by law to turn that property over to the Treasurer’s Office as unclaimed property.
The good news is that these assets don’t have to remain lost, but you do have to look for them. You should visit the West Virginia Treasury website regularly and do a search of your name to find out if we may be holding unclaimed property for you. If you do find your name, there is a simple online process to claim your property. The claim may require some additional information to prove ownership, but there will never be any fees to search or claim what is rightfully yours. If you have additional questions or need assistance you can also contact the Unclaimed Property Division at 1.800.642.8687 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Financial assets reported as unclaimed property are held in perpetuity until the owner or heirs of the original owner come forward to claim the property. To free up valuable storage space, the Treasurer’s Office does hold periodic online auctions of safe deposit box contents held in unclaimed property accounts. All proceeds from the auction are then held in accounts under the name of the original property owner.
While getting an unclaimed property check is exciting, we know the people of West Virginia would prefer their assets never come to the unclaimed property division at all. Here are some steps you can take to make sure you never lose track of your money:
- Keep a record of all bank accounts
- Indicate your interest in and awareness of all accounts by contacting the holder at least once every three years
- Record all stock certificates and be sure to cash all dividends received
- Record all utility deposits, including telephone, cable, and electricity deposits
- Respond in writing to any requests for confirmation of account balances with banks, stockbrokers and utility companies
- Prepare a check list of all accounts to be notified when you change your address and share this list with a family member or trusted advisor
- Notify your bank, broker, credit card issuer, employer, 401K administrator, life and health insurance contacts, mortgage lender, doctor, attorney, accountant, retirement fund, investment account, mutual fund, safe deposit box account, and any others of your name and/or address changes due to marriage, divorce or other legal action
- Cash all checks promptly upon receipt
The Treasurer’s Office currently holds 2.2 million unclaimed property accounts valued at more than $304 million. Don’t forget to check and see if we are already holding money for you, and if so, take back what’s yours!