Do You Own Any of the 8.8 Million Unclaimed Properties in the State of Florida?
Florida has more unclaimed property than most other states. The state has received nearly $3.5 billion in unclaimed property since the program began, and has paid out $1.4 billion. Every year FL receives around $250-$300 million more in unclaimed money and assets. Any financial asset that has been abandoned or left inactive by its owner is safeguarded by the state. If the holder is unable to locate the owner after a certain period of time, the information is turned over to the state.
The Florida Dept. of Financial Services has taken care of unclaimed properties since 1961. It has paid over 2 million claims to date, and still has nearly 9 million claimable properties in its database. That is almost half the Florida population! If you know someone in FL who has recently died or moved, that name is probably on the list. The property is kept safe until the right owner or heir claims it. There aren’t any statutes of limitations on unclaimed property.
These financial assets become abandoned or inactive for a variety of reasons: owners move away, change their names, pass away, or simply forget about the property. Sometimes a business will try to send a check to the owner and it will come back returned. When searching for property, try different spellings and variations of the individual’s name.
The financial bureau keeps a record of all the information the holder provides. This includes the owner’s name, SS #, last known address, dollar amount, joint owners (if any), etc. The funds are used in the State School Trust Fund until they are claimed. The original amount is always available for the account owner or heir, and the interest is used to benefit the state’s public schools system.
Businesses are required to try to find the owner for as long as they can. When their attempts fail, they must report the information and the owner’s name to the Department of Financial Services. Florida uses different methods to notify the owners. A searchable database is available online and is free to use. You can search for unclaimed property and print out claim forms. You will be provided with the information you need for filing a claim.
Florida does quite a bit to find owners, although the large amount of unclaimed property it accumulates every single year is worrisome. The Bureau uses the services of various databases, both public and private, to locate owners. It also participates in community events such as seminars and fairs. For larger properties, it uses media coverage. Unclaimed property in FL includes uncashed checks, jewelry, safe deposit boxes, traveler’s checks, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, bank accounts, and a variety of other intangible assets.