Abandoned Property

DEFINITION of 'Abandoned Property'

Assets such as cash, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, uncashed checks, land, life insurance policies and the contents of safe deposit boxes that have been turned over to the state after several years of inactivity. Some states hold onto such property and allow the original owners and heirs to claim it indefinitely. In other states, if the property goes unclaimed for too long, it may become the state's property through a process known as escheatment. One purpose of abandoned property laws is to relieve the asset holder of liability.

BREAKING DOWN 'Abandoned Property'

In the United States, state laws determine when an asset is legally considered abandoned. In Massachusetts, for example, a bank account that has seen no activity for more than three years will be turned over to the state, but owners can file a claim to collect their abandoned property at any time. To locate abandoned property, also called unclaimed property, individuals can do a free search through state-sponsored websites or they can contact the state treasury or comptroller's office. States may also try to locate owners of unclaimed property through letters and newspaper announcements.

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RELATED FAQS
  1. What do states do with unclaimed property?

    Unclaimed property refers to personal accounts in financial institutions or companies that have had no activity and whose ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. How can you reclaim escheated, or unclaimed, property?

    The process for reclaiming unclaimed or escheated property varies by state, as the federal government does not have a central ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How much money does Florida make from unclaimed property each year?

    Each year, goods such as money, financial investments and physical property are either auctioned off or appraised before ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What causes a stock account to be escheated?

    Your state government may be able to escheat your stock account or another financial asset if the account or asset is deemed ... Read Full Answer >>
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