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Ask Kim

Tracking Down Unclaimed Property

Anyone can search a state's unclaimed property database. You never know what you might discover.

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I found a large refund check from my grandmother’s retirement home when she died in 2006. The check is now void, and the facility is under new management. Could this money be in the state unclaimed property division? --Scott McRae, Tampa

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The type of uncashed refund check you found generally must be turned over to a state’s unclaimed property division within five years (time frames vary by state). We contacted the state treasurer’s office in South Carolina and Florida, both states where your grandmother lived, and neither found the money. The Florida unclaimed property division asked the retirement home to check its records and discovered that a replacement check had been issued and cashed in 2008.

But there’s still good news. South Carolina found $351 in your grandmother’s name, and Florida found $936 in uncashed dividend checks in her name. You can file claims with the states’ unclaimed property divisions. You’ll need to provide a copy of your grandmother’s death certificate, and the estate may need to be reopened. Contact the probate court in the county where your grandmother died for details.

Anyone can search a state’s unclaimed property database (go to www.naupa.org for links) or go to www.missingmoney.com to search 39 states’ databases at once. If that doesn’t work, contact the state’s unclaimed property division and ask it to search by “estate of” or the specific dollar amount, says Mary Pitman, author of The Little Book of Missing Money.

See Also: 8 Places to Find Free Money

Got a question? Ask Kim at askkim@kiplinger.com.