Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Found Money

Finders Keepers

 We’ve all heard stories of people who have, at one time or another, stumbled across money. Maybe it’s a $20 dollar bill which slipped between the sofa cushions, or a found lottery ticket, or even a bag of money in the bushes near your house, it’s always exciting to come across cash you didn’t expect, or didn’t know existed.
            Those incidents, while nice, are unpredictable and few and far between. What you may not know, however, is that you may actually have money owed to you that you don’t even know about.
Recently, one of my clients received $750 tagged as “unclaimed” which was found by conducting a simple on-line search. I’ve also had some experience in this area, and I, too, discovered that there are lots of avenues to find money you never knew you had, or may have forgotten about.
            Perhaps a long, lost relative bequeathed investments to you without your knowledge. It doesn’t have to be a rich relative. Some accounts may have been established by an employer, and perhaps your family member never even contributed to them. The company holding the funds is required to try to find you. After a period of time, if no contact is made, that money gets turned over to the unclaimed property division of the state or commonwealth responsible for distributing it.
Another common source of found money is in housing transactions. Perhaps you held a mortgage or an FHA loan which required you to provide money up front with the promise that it would be refunded to you, only to have that money get lost in an accounting oversight. Or maybe there was a security deposit from an apartment that was never refunded to you when you moved out.
All of these dollars, if unclaimed, end up in an “unclaimed property” status under the state’s administration. If you want to find out about unclaimed property in your name, there are several ways to research it.  If you live in Massachusetts, one way is to go to the website mass.gov and go to the “unclaimed property” page. Two additional sites to visit are missingmoney.com and foundmoney.com. Those often contain lists of missing money that has yet to be turned over to the state. In each of these cases, it’s just a matter of filling out a form to claim your money, which can then be put to whatever good use you and your financial adviser decide.
A few minutes of time could yield a financial benefit. At the very least, you can have fun with this, searching by your name, or family members and friends. What a nice gift to be able to call someone and say, “I found some money you didn’t know you had. Go get it!”

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