About Unclaimed Property
Unclaimed property is a financial asset owed to an individual or business. Property is considered unclaimed when there has been no owner contact for a specified period of time, usually between one and three years.
When efforts by the holder to locate the owner fail, the funds must be turned over to the Arizona Department of Revenue who is then responsible for safeguarding the funds, attempting to locate the owners, publicizing the names of apparent owners who cannot be located otherwise and returning the assets to the owners as they come forward.
Unclaimed property is any intangible asset that is held, issued or owing in the ordinary course of a holder’s business that has remained unclaimed by the owner for a statutory period of time after it became payable or distributable. Some examples of unclaimed assets are:
- Outstanding payroll and vendor checks.
- Matured certificates of deposit.
- Savings and checking accounts.
- Uncashed dividends.
- Unclaimed securities.
- Principal on debt.
- Uncashed money orders, cashiers checks, travelers checks, and other official checks.
- Unreturned and unused security deposits.
- Accounts receivable credit balances and discounts due.
- Escrow balances.
- Property held by courts and other governmental entities.
- Amounts due under terms of insurance policies.
- The state's Unclaimed Property Unit is holding over $1 billion in unclaimed property belonging to over one million citizens.
- Chances are one in seven of finding unclaimed property if you have lived in the State of Arizona.
- The Unclaimed Property Law was first enacted in 1954.
- The purpose of the act is to provide a central repository in each state where citizens can seek any lost property that belongs to them.
- We maintain a comprehensive list of all properties.
- All organizations, except the federal government, should report unclaimed property to the Arizona Department of Revenue.
- The law covers many types of property including securities, cash or property representing cash such as bank accounts, credits and payroll checks.
- The only tangible property covered is safe deposit box contents.
- While all the information can be obtained online, if you would like to have report forms or a copy of the Unclaimed Property Law, you can call the department with your request. There are several reporting guides designed to help organizations determine what unclaimed property needs to be reported
These assets become unclaimed property for a variety of reasons:
- Businesses lose track of owners due to a change of address.
- Owner may have forgotten about the asset and failed to notify the business of his new address.
- Property becomes abandoned due to the death of the owner.
- The decedent’s family is often times not aware of these assets.
- Other assets become unclaimed property because of a custodial relationship experienced as a minor child. Parents establish accounts in the name(s) of minor children, then forget about the accounts. The children are usually unaware of them until:
- Accounts are advertised online.
- A claim form is received.
- Stock splits and other securities transactions account for a large portion of unclaimed property.
- Property is lost due to business dissolution or merger.
- Customers will overpay on their accounts, or send remittances with no indication as to which account the payment applies.
- These credit balances are often times just left on the books of companies.
- Checks have been lost in the mail or put in a drawer and forgotten.
- The original owner.
- Heirs of original owner.
- A personal representative if the estate is open.
- A beneficiary or co-owner listed on account.
- To provide consumer protection by serving as custodian of abandoned property.
- To make every effort to return it to its rightful owners or their heirs.
- To protect the property should an owner or heir not be located.
Once the property is reported:
- The State will publish owners' names online.
- Staff members are utilized in an effort to reunite owners with their property.
The contents of safe deposit boxes or other safekeeping depositories are considered abandoned when they remain unclaimed by the owner for more than three years after the lease or rental period on the box has expired.
The contents are required to be turned over to the State where they are held for two more years.
- After two years have passed, a notice of sale is published and items of value are sold at public auction.
- Safe deposit box contents are liquidated within three years of receipt; however, the proceeds remain the property of the original owners for the remainder of the 35 year escheatment period.
- Other items that the State deems to have inconsequential value are disposed in an appropriate manner.