General Frequently Asked Questions How do I check for unclaimed property in other states? All states have unclaimed property programs. If you would like more information about other states, please visit the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators site at www.unclaimed.org. How does property become “unclaimed?” Loss of communication - owner does not notify of address change. Oversight - owner does not complete required information updates. Mail lost or returned to the holder (Entity “holding” the unclaimed funds) by the post office- no follow-up by the holder. Mail received by the owner - no action taken. Holder (Entity “holding" the unclaimed funds) did not perform proper due diligence. How does the state get the property? State law requires financial institutions, insurance companies, public agencies, and businesses to turn over unclaimed property to the state if there has been no contact with the owners for the statutory period of time. Is there a fee charged to get my money back? No. This is a FREE public service provided by the State of North Carolina. What attempts are made to find the rightful owners? Under the law, the holders (the entity which has possession of the property, i.e. banks, insurance companies, credit unions, etc.) must make a good faith effort to locate the true owner. If they are unsuccessful, they are to report the names and last known address of the owners to the State Treasurer. By statute, a list is sent to all the Clerks of Court in North Carolina. Also, the Department of State Treasurer is required to post a notice in at least two newspapers stating the nature of the lists and that the lists are available for inspection at the offices of the respective clerks of superior court. Additionally, the Department of State Treasurer has developed and implemented a statewide outreach and public awareness effort that includes setting up booths at various fairs, street festivals and conventions, asking for assistance from members of the General Assembly as well as local governmental offices in locating rightful owners, and working with the media to encourage people to check for unclaimed property on our website. What does the State do with the money before it is claimed? The North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority (SEAA) is an agency of the State of North Carolina and is authorized by the General Assembly to administer post-secondary education programs of student financial assistance created under Federal or State law. North Carolina General Statute 116B-7 provides that the interest earnings from the Escheat Fund, minus administrative expenses, be deposited with the SEAA. The law further provides that this money will be utilized to provide grants and low interest loans to worthy and needy North Carolina students in State-supported schools of higher education. What happens to money that is never claimed by the owner? There is no time limit for making a claim to the State Treasurer. Owners or heirs can always claim their property. If the owner is deceased, the executor of the deceased person’s estate may claim such funds with proper documentation. What is an Escheat? An escheat is the succession of abandoned property to the State. It is commonly associated with properties that come from an estate of a person dying without a will and without any known heirs. However, this concept has been broadened to include the recovery of any property that results from the failure of a person legally entitled to that property to make a valid claim against the holder of the property within a prescribe period of time. Consequently, the terms escheat and unclaimed property are used interchangeably. What is Tangible Unclaimed Property? Tangible property is defined as cash or personal property physically held in a safe deposit box. After the property has been held for at least one year, these items may be sold through a bidding process. We are currently transitioning from selling unclaimed tangible property through the State Surplus Property Division to another bidding process. Once that bidding process is established, we will provide a link on our site. After the sale of unclaimed property, the revenue generated is entered into the database under the owner’s name. The owner would be due this cash amount. What is the purpose of the Escheat Fund? In 1970, legislation mandated that the North Carolina Department of State Treasurer assume responsibility for the administration of the escheat program that was previously administered by the University of North Carolina. The purpose of the program is to: Recover unclaimed or forgotten property Reunite these properties with the rightful owner Remit the interest earnings on the funds invested to the North Carolina State Educational Assistance Authority to provide grants and loans to worthy and needy North Carolina students in State-supported institutions of higher education. What is unclaimed property? Unclaimed property consists of bank accounts, wages, utility deposits, insurance policy proceeds, stocks, bonds, and contents of safe deposit boxes that have been abandoned – that is, for which there have been no documented transactions or contact with the owners for a statutory period of time. In most cases, this period of time varies from 1 to 5 years depending upon the property type. There are over 100 types of property which may become unclaimed. What should I do if my claim includes stock or mutual fund shares? If your claim contains shares of stocks or mutual funds, you have the option of asking us to liquidate your shares at the current market price in order to refund you the cash proceeds from the sale and refunding you the proceeds from the sale; or you can request that the shares be reinstated. Please indicate on the claim form if you wish to have your shares liquidated or reinstated. If your claim contains shares of stock and choose NOT to sell your shares, we will request that the shares be transferred to your name. The holder or their transfer agent will issue a statement which will be mailed directly to you, the claimant. Your shares will be held in book entry form. If your claim contains mutual fund shares and choose NOT to sell your shares, we will request that the shares be reinstated with the fund in your name. The mutual fund will issue a statement of your account and mail the statement directly to you, the claimant. Your shares will be held in book entry form. If you wish to have your mutual fund shares reinstated, you will need to provide our office a completed W-9 and your date of birth. A W-9 can be obtained from the IRS’s website at www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw9.pdf What should I do if someone offers to help me locate unclaimed money for a fee? Remember, searching for unclaimed property on this site is a free service offered by the Department of State Treasurer. If a professional finder contacts you and offers to find unclaimed property for a fee, please contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org before signing any agreement. Please be advised that professional finders must register annually with the State. You may contact our office to see if a finder is registered. The finder must also have you sign an agreement that includes information about services to be provided, property involved, and the finder’s fee. In most cases the finder's fee shall not exceed $1,000 or 20% of the value of the property, whichever is less. If the agreement does not contain this information or fees exceed this amount, it may not be enforceable. Please see Statute 116B-78 for more information.