With the exception of personal property such as animals, vehicles or property, the State of Maine collects millions of dollars annually in unclaimed property. This property may come from banks, broker dealers or from employers.
What is unclaimed property?
Unclaimed property is turned over to the State of Maine when the account holder is not able to locate the owner of an account. Funds from checking or savings accounts, safe deposit box contents and checks that have gone uncashed from employers or dividend payments may be classified as unclaimed or abandoned. When property is abandoned, the State of Maine provides methods for the rightful owner or their heirs to reclaim their property.
Property is considered abandoned for various reasons including death, divorce and moving. Occasionally, account owners forget about bank accounts, life insurance policies or brokerage accounts. When someone moves (or changes their name) confusion can result and items are forgotten.
Amount of unclaimed property
As of June 30, 2011, the State of Maine has more than $172 million in more than 900,000 accounts. The average claims paid by the State of Maine are about $600 per claim filed. In all cases, the goal of the State of Maine is to ensure that the property is returned to the rightful owner.
To find and claim property
To find abandoned or unclaimed property, the rightful owner (or heirs) may begin by conducting a search on the Maine Unclaimed Property Search & Claim database. Searches may be conducted using the rightful owners name or their social security number. Users need only fill out one field in order to complete the search.
Fees associated with unclaimed property
Those who identify property that is being held by the State of Maine need not pay a fee to collect the assets. In fact, the State of Maine discourages third party finders by requiring them to be licensed private investigators in the State of Maine. In addition, Maine restricts fees to a maximum of 15 percent of the amount that is paid to the property owner and does not allow agreements sooner than 24 months after property has been turned over to the state.
Facts that you should know
• Account holders (banks, etc.) must credit interest for up to ten years after property is considered abandoned.
• No rightful owner needs to pay a fee to claim property in Maine
• Physical property (such as jewelry, stamp collections, etc.) may be sold under Maine laws
• Historically significant items are often abandoned and before they are sold, the historical values will be assessed and may not be liquidated
The Treasurer of the State of Maine administers the state’s unclaimed property laws. For those who have lived in Maine or had family members who lived in or did business in the State of Maine, it may be beneficial to see if there is property being held under the unclaimed property laws.