When business ventures close, or when people move or become incapacitated, they may lose track of property. In Georgia this means that depending on the type of property that is misplaced, it may fall under the Georgia unclaimed property laws. Property owners and their heirs then will have to find out how to find unclaimed property in Georgia.
What is unclaimed property?
Unclaimed property is considered property that is abandoned by the original owner. This sometimes occurs after someone moves or has passed away without leaving a full list of their assets. In the case of a move, this means that the mailing order left with the post office has expired and the original owner has lost track of the property.
Unclaimed property classifications include paychecks, utility deposits and even contents of safe deposit boxes. When banks, government entities or other companies who hold assets belonging to another person are unable to locate the original owner, there are rules in Georgia that require the assets be turned over to the state. The period of time to locate the owner varies from one year to 15 years depending on the asset.
Identifying unclaimed property
The Georgia Department of Revenue offers an online search for unclaimed property. The database may be searched by last name, or an inquiry can be made by telephone by calling (404) 968-0490. Those who find property registered by last name should be aware of the fact that just because a name is the same or similar does not mean the property is theirs to claim. There are often more than one persons with the same (or similar) names.
Filing a claim for property
Those searching the unclaimed property database that believe they have identified assets that belong to them will have to request a claim form. This process is done from the database itself versus a direct form download. Simply select the item from the list that you believe you have a rightful claim for and you will be provided with additional information and an option to request a form. The additional information should be able to clearly show if the property belongs to the person making the inquiry by providing the persons last known address as well as the institution that was holding the asset.
Once confirming that the property belongs to you or a family member and requesting the form, you will have to wait for the form to be mailed. Once received it is imperative that you read all of the instructions provided. The form will have to be filled out completely and specific documents will have to be provided to the State of Georgia. Some of the typical documentation that is required is a photo identification, a W9 form and some proof of ownership.
It is important to note that property owners can claim property from the State of Georgia’s unclaimed property division at any time at no fee. Account owners, their heirs or their estates need not pay any fee for reclaiming abandoned property. Unclaimed property in Georgia is held by the state in perpetuity for the benefit of the owner (or heirs).