Checks of different kinds, such as travelers checks and payroll checks, can become unclaimed property after a certain period of time. They are escheatable in many states. Escheat laws ensure that once unpresented checks expire and become unclaimed, the issuer of the check does not misappropriate funds that rightfully belong to a payee. The issuer must transfer the title to an unclaimed check to the state, which safeguards it until the beneficiary claims the check back.

Unclaimed Checks

When a person issues a check to pay for products and services, and the payee deposits the check after the check expires, the check becomes escheatable as unclaimed property. An issuer must report unclaimed checks to the state of its jurisdiction if it cannot provide an explanation why the check was not claimed. Once the state receives the title to the unclaimed checks, it holds them until the rightful payee files required paperwork to claim the check back.

Examples of Unclaimed Checks

In some states, unclaimed checks make up a substantial portion of all unclaimed properties held in the state Treasury departments. Checks can become escheatable if they were outstanding for a long time. Written-off checks and checks returned by the post office can become escheatable over time. Most issuers deem checks unclaimed after three years since their issuance. Common types of checks subject to escheat laws include payroll, employee commissions, accounts payable, dividends, vendor payments, refunds and travel expenses.

Recovering Unclaimed Checks

Payees can search for their unclaimed checks that were escheated by the state through numerous state and national registers of unclaimed properties. Common online resources include the state Treasury and controllers' offices, as well as MissingMoney.com.

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