Most of us will only dream of the possibility of opening a letter in our mailbox and discovering that we have a small fortune waiting for us. While this may seem improbable, this is exactly what happened to a woman in Missouri. Under the state’s unclaimed property laws, the State Treasurer was successfully able to identity a Missouri resident and “reunite” her with over $6 million in unclaimed property.
What is unclaimed property?
Property that is held by banks, courts and other agencies on behalf of any person can become unclaimed property. Missouri laws state that property holders must report to the state any property they hold after they have lost contact with an account owner for a period of five years (in some cases this may be greater or less). Contact includes mail, telephone or any account activity. Typically, this applies to bank accounts, court awards, refund checks and other types of financial instruments. This may also apply to contents of safe deposit boxes.
How owners identify property
Property owners who believe they may have property held by the State of Missouri may find property in one of two manners. One is through the online database of unclaimed property called Show Me Money and the other is by writing to the State Treasurer. The address to request information is Missouri State Treasurer, Unclaimed Property, PO Box 1004, Jefferson City, MO 65102. Potential owners should provide their name, their current address as well as previous addresses to determine if they have property being held by the state.
Costs and time to claim property
The State of Missouri does not charge claimants any fee to file a claim or to claim property if they determine a claimant has the legal right to the property. In fact, many claimants may be able to file a paperless claim online to claim property. There are finder services that may charge fees to claimants in spite of the fact that property can be claimed directly at no fee. Claimants may file a claim for property at any time. The right to file a claim “trickles down” to the heirs of original account owners, the funds are held in perpetuity. In addition, Missouri will also pay interest on any funds that were in interest bearing accounts for up to seven years after they are escheated to the state.
The State of Missouri not only offers an online database to find unclaimed property in Missouri, but they also send out postcards and publish names in local newspapers. Whether you are a resident, have worked in Missouri or are an heir to someone who lived or worked in Missouri, it is helpful to understand the process of how to find unclaimed property. Missouri works hard to reunite rightful owners and heirs with funds they are entitled to.