What is Found Money

Found money refers to any amount of money that has been rediscovered after being forgotten about or abandoned by the rightful owner.


Found money can be used to describe anything from a wad of discarded dollar bills that one finds in the bottom of a washing machine to an uncollected asset discovered by beneficiaries long after the account holder has passed away. Found money always pertains to money that has gone unthought of until it is once again discovered.

In the United States, every state in the United States has an unclaimed property agency that works to get forgotten funds back into the pockets of their rightful owners. They can work to reunite people with unreturned deposits, undisbursed retirement funds and even uncashed payroll checks.

When these attempts are unsuccessful, each state has their own policies and procedures in place for how to deal with leftover funds. In some cases this money defaults to the state after a certain amount of time has passed. Some states allow the funds to remain in limbo indefinitely.

There are many different forms of unclaimed funds. Bank accounts, retirement funds that remained with a previous employer and old bonds are just a few possible examples. Once these unclaimed assets are returned to their proper owner again, they become found money.

An Example of Found Money

Take for example the case of Fran Goldsmith. Her father Fred passed away in 2001. Fran was the executor of his will and the sole beneficiary of his many assets. It took Fran more than a year to organize all of his accounts. She transferred some of his investments into her name, keeping them open. The ones that she wanted to close were liquidated.

During this process, one of her father’s shareholder accounts slipped through the cracks. Over the years the account remained open and the shares of ABC Fruits remained in Fred’s name. In 2017, the company was bought out by a national chain. The company offered to buy out any existing shareholders and tried to track Fred Goldsmith down. Instead they found Fran Goldsmith, the new rightful owner of the shares, and offered her the buyout instead.

Upon accepting the buyout of $5,000 for her father’s last remaining account, Fran joked to her friends about how this was more found money than she had ever pulled out of her dryer's lint trap before.