|States hold treasure
trove of unclaimed property
"Before signing any contract from
a firm of this type, we recommend that you be cautious and contact
the unclaimed property office in your state," NAUPA suggests.
A reliability report on asset finder companies
can also be obtained from the Better
"There are fine lines some companies tip-toe
around," says Doug Broten, president of the Better Business Bureau
in Fresno, Calif. "For instance, consumers should be leery of any
company that asks for money before any service is performed."
||You may have claim to forgotten money if :
Asset finders may need to dig beyond state records
to look for money not turned over to the state. Here are other areas
that may uncover forgotten loot, according to the Better Business
Retirement benefits. Review your list
of previous jobs. Did you work at a company for at least five years?
If so, you could be entitled to retirement benefits. Call the company
Pensions. If you worked for a company
that went bankrupt, don't assume your pension is lost. There is
a federal agency that currently insures millions of individual
pensions. Write to: Pension
Benefit Guarantee Corp., Pension Search Program, 1200 K St.
NW, Washington, D.C., 20005-4026 or call (202) 326-4000.
Bank accounts and utility deposits.You
may have left town without closing your bank account or asking
utility companies to return deposits. This is common among college
Union benefits. If you worked at
a union job for more than five years, you may be vested in a pension
plan and have a small life insurance policy. Check with the local
or regional office of the union where you worked.
Life insurance benefits. More than
25 percent of life insurance policies that are sold go uncollected,
according to industry experts. Search a deceased relative's canceled
checks for the name of an insurance company or agent.
Money from real estate.
Don't assume that a deceased relative's property was sold for delinquent
taxes. Some property is listed on tax rolls for years before being
sold, and any money that exceeded the tax bill would have been sent
to the state while waiting for heirs to claim it.
Frequent-flier miles. Most airlines
allow an heir to claim a deceased relative's frequent-flier miles,
but some have a three-year limitation. Check credit card statements
or the deceased relative's travel agent for an account number.
Keep track of records, accounts
If you want to prevent your assets from ever reaching the
unclaimed stage, Broten of the Better Business Bureau offers the
- Keep accurate financial records and a detailed
inventory of your bank accounts, stocks, safe-deposit boxes and
life insurance policies.
- Make sure a family member or trusted adviser
knows where you keep your records.
- Send a letter to all financial institutions
holding your savings, checking accounts, IRAs and any other deposits
such as certificate of deposits at least once every three years.
The letter should contain your current address, phone number and
other pertinent information.
- Keep a checklist of all your financial assets,
so that you won't forget to notify the institutions holding them
if you change your address.