Tag Archives: USA

The Bluegrass State knows how to return Green (Cash)

Kentucky is looking to push forward & further on their quest to return unclaimed money

That`s the mission in the Bluegrass State of Kentucky for Todd Hollenbach, the State Treasurer. Mr. Hollenbach  has been spreading joy across the State over the past 6 years where his office has returned more than $100 million in unclaimed property to rightful owners in that time.

It`s a pretty incredible record given that it`s more than all the state treasurers combined returned in the 60 years before Mr. Hollenbach came into office. (Kentucky`s Unclaimed Property Program dates back to 1942) But Mr. Hollenbach is determined to do more. He vowed recently to return $120 Million before his term ends in 2015 by visiting all 120 counties in Kentucky (Hence his 120 in 120 slogan)

Last year the the Kentucky State Treasury collected a record of $53 Million in unclaimed financial assets from property holders, including banks and insurance companies. The State currently holds some $150 Million in total Unclaimed property. That`s a lot of money for a State of approximately 4.4 Million

Mr. Hollenbach attributes much of the success in returning unclaimed property to a volunteer program called “Treasure Finders.” which includes establishing a phone bank, enlisting volunteers to review property listings, calling residents to inform them of potential unclaimed property and providing assistance in completing claim forms. 

(HOW GREAT A JOB IS THAT ? )

Even if the State is not successful in returning unclaimed property it`s a WIN for the State and a win for taxpayers as money not returned goes into the General Fund to pay for identified programs like education, That`s the WIN WIN in having Unclaimed Intangible Property Legislation in place.

Read the entire article here 

Want to look for any unclaimed money in Kentucky go here 

New York returns $1 Million a day in unclaimed funds

Everyday NY returns $1 Million to those who file claims on their Unclaimed Funds Database

New York has been able to return $95,075,685 since January 2014

New York has been able to return this amount thanks to comprehensive (US wide) legislation, an easy to search database on the State website, regular promotion around unclaimed funds and a multitude of outreach activity aimed specifically at searching and finding the legal owners of the lost money that they are holding.

Despite this, New York still has $12 Billion in Unclaimed (hard earned) financial assets

Imagine if you will if

1) each Canadian province & territory in Canada (not just 2) had comprehensive & consistent legislation to protect unclaimed/lost financial assets &

2) Each Canadian province & territory in Canada (not just 2) provided a comprehensive & easy to search database  like the US and many other Countries provide

It`s time. It doesn’t take a lot to become separated from your money or from money a loved one had. Famous Celebrities can lose track as well. Here are a few that show up in the NY database:

  • Tina Fey (from 2005)
  • Mariah Carey (from 2002)
  • Beyonce
  • HIlary Clinton
  • Sean “Diddy” Combs (from 1991)
  • Angelina Jolie (from 2004)
  • Glenn Close (from 1994)
  • Eliot Spitzer
  • Denis Leary
  • Robert DeNiro
  • Paula Zahn
  • Woody Allen (from 2012)
  • Yoko Ono (from 2012)
  • Anthony Wiener

New York Unclaimed money database 

The core mission behind LegacyTracker has been to help solve the problem of funds becoming Unclaimed. But LegacyTracker as an online financial/estate organizing solution can do a lot more both for consumers and the trusted financial providers they work with. Contact us to find out more

Canada needs Unclaimed Property Legislation

Common Types of Unclaimed Property

Unclaimed property is property that has been abandoned, lost or forgotten by its rightful owner. There are many reasons property can become Unclaimed including often, the death of the rightful owner.

The most common types of financial assets that have become unclaimed are:

  • Bank accounts/Credit Union accounts
  • Over payments made to businesses or deposits such as Utilities
  • Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends
  • Funds reserved (undeposited) certified cheques, drafts or money orders
  • GICs or Certificates of deposit
  • Pensions
  • Insurance policy proceeds, Insurance refunds and amounts payable resulting from Demutalizations of mutual insurance companies
  • Education Savings plans
  • Prepaid Funeral deposits
  • Tax refunds
  • Mineral interests and royalty payments, trust funds, and escrow account
  • Contents of Safety Deposit Boxes-which may include valuables and sentimental items
  • Uncashed payroll cheques
  • Unused Gift Card balances

And here are some tips on how not to lose these types of financial assets:

  • Cash all incoming deposits promptly and/or setup direct deposit
  • Keep up to date records of all of your financial accounts & contacts like banks, brokers, credit unions, Utility companies etc. Make sure to include the ones you deal with online.
  • Make a separate list of all of the financial organizations you deal with to share with your family
  • Make contact with your financial organizations at least once per year and always ensure that you notify them of any address changes promptly or any changes in ownership of your assets due to death/divorce
  • Make copies of your important documents and ensure that your family knows where to find them and knows about all of your financial assets
  • Provide all of your financial organizations with a secondary contact or beneficiary name and contact address
  • Pay annual fees on items like safety deposit boxes or memberships  on time to ensure that your account does not become inactive

And yes. LegacyTracker will help you keep track of all of these assets and help you share that information with loved ones or advisors so it does not become unclaimed.

Secrets behind Safety Deposit Boxes

Any day now someone will realize that they could make the story of unclaimed safety deposit boxes a reality TV show . I`m sure it will happen eventually. An article last year from New England Cable News provided some interesting details on how safety deposit boxes work in the US, but unfortunately, the article has since disappeared.  And very unfortunately, the article failed to shine any light on what happens to safety deposit boxes in Canada but we are still looking into that particular mystery.

In the US, each State takes responsibility for the boxes after 5 years of no activity (most importantly, missed payments) because safety deposit boxes are considered unclaimed property and well, the US has had unclaimed property legislation for about 40+ years.

After reading the story of a typical day of opening abandoned safety deposit boxes in a typical state like Wisconsin I have a new appreciation of why they REALLY try to return the boxes to the rightful owners.

Hundreds of boxes arrive at this particular office in Wisconsin but each State may vary in the additional amount of time they will hold abandoned items after receiving the boxes from the banks who have already held them for 5 years.. Wisconsin holds boxes for 2 years while Iowa will hold boxes for 10 more years.

“We’ve really tried to push our outreach efforts to let people know about unclaimed funds and getting money back to people,” said Scott Feldt, the deputy state treasurer. “That’s our major effort, that’s why we are here.”

They do so at by way of public events, radio, TV and newspaper interviews. They also publish lists of people owed unclaimed property in various newspapers and in their searchable online database.

More commonly, they hold coins and jewelry, old stamps and personal documents, like wills and marriage certificates. But often times unusual items of no monetary value re found in the boxes and they have no choice but to destroy. This story details some of those finds:

  •  One box contained a Band-Aid box and two toenails, wrapped in tissue.
  •  One box contained an empty envelope.(only)
  •  One box contained nothing but spoons.
  •  One box contained a Rolex box, but alas, no Rolex.
  •  One box contained dental gold, teeth still attached

 Some of the items are sold in monthly eBay auctions. The office holds the proceeds for the owner in the event someone later claims them.

Perhaps not these particular items but some items that are found to have value are sold in monthly eBay auctions and then the proceeds are held for the owner in the event someone later claims them.

And while it may depend on the State most will hold certain special items ‘in perpetuity’ like photographs and war medals which they know would mean the most…if they eventually find the rightful owners.

All in all, it seems like a fairly civilized and respectful process and transparent! I look forward to unraveling the story of unclaimed Canadian Safety deposit boxes.

The fate of abandoned safety deposit boxes is seen a little different according to the site Punny Money as noted below

US_Safety Deposit Box Info

California – Not just Good Weather but also Good Info/Action on Unclaimed Funds

Here’s a short video with Good Advice from California’s State Controller Mr. John Chiang who takes the responsibility of returning missing assets to consumers very seriously. Mr. Chiang has $6.9 Billion in Unclaimed Funds, so it’s a very BIG job

The population of the State of California is close by comparison to the entire population of Canada-give or take a Million or so (?) Unfortunately, there is no such comparison of California or any other US State to Canada for that matter, in terms of Unclaimed Fund Legislation. Canada is way behind. But with a population close in numbers to Canada; it would be interesting to know if the Unclaimed Fund Balance of California is a better estimate of what Canada would have if we kept track ($6.9 Billion)

Here’s some charts providing further information on how California seeks to return unclaimed funds to the legal owners and the ever-increasing issue of unclaimed financial assets that is a global problem growing a  fast pace.

 

And some nice charts courtesy of his office at the California State Controller’s Office

Notices mailed out by California

Since 2007, California has been sending over a million notices a year to owners of Unclaimed Property

Securities returned to owners California

Cash returned to Owners

 

 

Property Returned to owners California

 

 

Life is Complicated/Death is more so/Get Organized

When did life get so complicated with multiple everything and not enough time ?Which is why you need to Get your stuff together …

The poster above is from a 2011 article from the Wall Street Journal (Saabira Chaudhuri) The 25 Documents you need before you Die It was a good read then with a great poster and even more so a few years later. The Article talks about  the financial consequences that befalls your family and loved ones if you fail to keep all your documents and important papers in order. The author makes reference to the very large investigations & lawsuits that started around that time into the obligation of insurers to pay out unclaimed life policies to beneficiaries. I think it was what prompted Saabira to write the article since that  BILLION dollar story is still ongoing in the US, 3 years later.

The article makes reference to the $32.9B in unclaimed bank accounts and other assets. That total is now $58B. The US has had legislation since the 1930’s around unclaimed assets to tracking, reporting and actively looking for owners of unclaimed funds is common place. No such luck in Canada outside of Alberta and Quebec

LegacyTracker is built much like the cabinet you see in the poster except it’s Secure, Accessible online, Template based to reduce info that might not be included otherwise, the flexible sharing, printing, saving, more comprehensive and comes with built-in alerts & reminders and a net worth tracker…since LegacyTracker is not just about death; it’s about living as well.

Read the article from the Wall Street Journal Here

USA Unclaimed Fund total is $58B yes $58B

Originally published by LegacyTracker Feb 13 2013

The unclaimed fund balances were recently updated as they are each year..by each State, federal and other organization as required in the United States. That gives us the most recent estimate for unclaimed funds waiting for owners to be reunited with their money:

The new estimated value for unclaimed property is …$58 Billion.

Buried US cash

Again, sad but true.

That’s a lot of money as it works out to approximately $186 per resident of the US. Imagine if that money was all put to use in the economy.

The list of assets included in what the US defines as unclaimed (or abandoned) property (or sometimes referred to as unclaimed assets or unclaimed funds) is quite wide ranging in the US and actually getting wider.

Common forms of unclaimed property in the US includes savings or chequing accounts, stocks, uncashed dividends or payroll checks, refunds, traveler’s checks, trust distributions, unredeemed money orders or gift certificate/cards (in some states), insurance payments or refunds and life insurance policies, annuities, certificates of deposit, customer overpayments, utility security deposits, mineral royalty payments, and contents of safety deposit boxes.

Here’s some further detail on this $58 Billion estimate:

·        $300 Million in pension benefits from employment owed to 38,000 individuals

·        $16 Billion worth of matured US savings bonds (more than 45 million bonds)

·        $153.3 Million in tax refunds that were not deliverable by the IRS

·        $1 Billion in unclaimed insurance policy proceeds

·        $41.7 Billion in unclaimed funds held by individual states.

This last figure of $41.7 Billion is worthy of some further explanation. .While rules vary slightly between each state, specific types of property are considered as being ‘abandoned’ or unclaimed when there has been no activity for 1-5 years. At that point, all financial organizations or any organization holding such property or funds are required to turn them over to the State Treasury.

Each state then takes over the search for owners through websites, newspaper ads, and booths at Malls and events like State fairs and Exhibitions. While searching for the owners, the State can use those assets to fund government operations but the owner’s claim to the property remains intact. Of the $58 Billion in unclaimed funds that has been reported, $41.7 Billion is being held by individual States. .

“The money belongs to the owner in perpetuity. Even if the owner dies, then their heirs could come back and claim it,” said Carolyn Atkinson, West Virginia’s deputy treasurer for unclaimed property and a past president of National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.

More on this story:

To learn more about the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators and for a link to all State databases : 

NAUPA Website

USA Unclaimed Fund total is $58B yes $58B

Originally published by LegacyTracker Feb 13 2013

The unclaimed fund balances were recently updated as they are each year..by each State, federal and other organization as required in the United States. That gives us the most recent estimate for unclaimed funds waiting for owners to be reunited with their money:

The new estimated value for unclaimed property is …$58 Billion.

Yes, sad but true.

That’s a lot of money as it works out to approximately $186 per resident of the US. Imagine if that money was all put to use in the economy.

The list of assets included in what the US defines as unclaimed (or abandoned) property (or sometimes referred to as unclaimed assets or unclaimed funds) is quite wide ranging in the US and actually getting wider.

Common forms of unclaimed property in the US includes savings or chequing accounts, stocks, uncashed dividends or payroll checks, refunds, traveler’s checks, trust distributions, unredeemed money orders or gift certificate/cards (in some states), insurance payments or refunds and life insurance policies, annuities, certificates of deposit, customer overpayments, utility security deposits, mineral royalty payments, and contents of safety deposit boxes.

Here’s some further detail on this $58 Billion estimate:

·        $300 Million in pension benefits from employment owed to 38,000 individuals

·        $16 Billion worth of matured US savings bonds (more than 45 million bonds)

·        $153.3 Million in tax refunds that were not deliverable by the IRS

·        $1 Billion in unclaimed insurance policy proceeds

·        $41.7 Billion in unclaimed funds held by individual states.

This last figure of $41.7 Billion is worthy of some further explanation. .While rules vary slightly between each state, specific types of property are considered as being ‘abandoned’ or unclaimed when there has been no activity for 1-5 years. At that point, all financial organizations or any organization holding such property or funds are required to turn them over to the State Treasury.

Each state then takes over the search for owners through websites, newspaper ads, and booths at Malls and events like State fairs and Exhibitions. While searching for the owners, the State can use those assets to fund government operations but the owner’s claim to the property remains intact. Of the $58 Billion in unclaimed funds that has been reported, $41.7 Billion is being held by individual States. .

“The money belongs to the owner in perpetuity. Even if the owner dies, then their heirs could come back and claim it,” said Carolyn Atkinson, West Virginia’s deputy treasurer for unclaimed property and a past president of National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators.

More on this story:

To learn more about the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators and for a link to all State databases :

NAUPA Website

Mortgage or life insurance

Why? $1 Billion in US Unclaimed life insurance benefits

This story will help provide you with a lot of the “why” …Why I was compelled to develop LegacyTracker…

Revelations from a Consumer Reports investigation in 2013 are still BIG news in the US. For good reason as the revelations were a bit shocking and disturbing to say the least as they related to the fact that at least $1 Billion in life insurance benefits had not been paid out. 

CBS News was one media outlet who followed up on the story (link provided below) But beware, as the video may make you weep both for the individual that purchased and paid for a life insurance policy with their hard-earned/after tax money and the beneficiary who has not claimed the benefits under the policy.

This may not shock Canadians because most of us live in a province or territory that does not have Unclaimed Financial Asset Legislation. But in the US, such legislation has been in place for 50+ years as an integral part of Consumer Protection and that legislation requires all “holders” of financial assets to turn any assets owing to a consumer over to each State after a certain period of time, in order that the State can take on the task of finding those owners.

Therefore, when it was determined that Insurers were not being particularly diligent in turning those unclaimed insurance policies over, a lot of audits, investigations, litigation and ultimately, settlements were initiated along with a lot of excuses from Insurers. Audits found “an industry wide practice of failing to pay death benefits” even though the insurers had access to federal death records.

This was only heightened when it was determined that many insurers were using Social Security’s Death Master file to identify those who had died so they could stop paying annuity payments but were not using that file to find deceased policy holders and payout benefits to their beneficiaries. Yes. Disturbing.

As the reporter notes…”they kinda didn’t want to know that you died so they can keep the premiums coming until they find out you have passed away”.

Mellody Hobson of CBS News summarized in her report:

  • $1+ billion in unclaimed insurance policy benefits have not been claimed
  • 1 in 600 people have unclaimed benefits
  • Payouts range anywhere between $2,000 – $300,000
  • The insurance company had no real legal obligation to look for the beneficiary
  • The insurance companies were reported as saying that $1Billion in unclaimed policies was a “minor problem

The Bottom Line ?

As the CBS reporter concluded

“Ultimate responsibility lies with beneficiary. It sounds so mundane but so many people don’t tell their loved one where the policy is, what the company is and that they are a named beneficiary”.  Agreed. So these are the key “takeaways” from this disturbing story:

  • Know what you own
  • Know what other loved one’s own
  • Know where your spouse’s life insurance policy is
  • Make sure beneficiary information is up to date
  • Make sure your beneficiary knows where your policy is

This story supports the reason why we built LegacyTracker.

Too many assets including insurance policies are being left unclaimed. The detail that you or a loved one needs to provide about existing life insurance policies is a key template built into Legacy Tracker

And the situation in Canada? Even more murky…

We don’t really talk about it in Canada and insurance companies don’t talk about it. What is the value of unclaimed insurance benefits in Canada? It’s anyone’s guess but some within the industry estimate that 20-30% of insurance policies do not get cashed. I am not sure I want to estimate what that total value $ would be; I just know we need to reduce that figure. Please.

Here’s the Consumer Report on Unclaimed Life Insurance Policies

How to Find Lost Life-Insurance Policies – Consumer Reports