A Guide to the Massachusetts Abandon Property Division

The Massachusetts Abandoned Property Law defines unclaimed property as any financial asset (except for Traveler’s check) that has been inactive for more than three years. To date, the Commonwealth of Mass. has acquired around $1 billion in abandoned assets. For the past few years alone, the Abandoned Property Division has received around $200,000,000 a year!

Around one out of every ten people has unclaimed assets. There are over 400,000 names in the Mass. database, including Red Sox players and New Kids on the Block! Most of the money belongs to Bostonians. While some of the money belongs to companies, much of it belongs to ordinary citizens. You can do a search online to see if any of the money belongs to you.

The Abandoned Property Division is trying to reunite citizens with their money through outreach programs. Representatives for the Division are visiting cities and small towns over the state at malls, venues, assisted living facilities, etc. to reach out to the community and inform everyone that they may have forgotten money or other assets.

Abandoned property in Massachusetts includes assets such as savings and checking accounts, unpaid wages, commissions, uncashed checks, stocks, uncashed dividends, credit balances, customer overpayments, refunds, safe deposit boxes, etc. Essentially, it’s any type of property that isn’t land or real estate of any kind. The only physical items include the contents inside of safe deposit boxes.

Whenever businesses and banks can’t track the owner for at least three years, they must report the account to the state, in accordance with Chapter 200A with the Mass. Abandoned Property Law. Business entities are required to review records every year to find abandoned accounts. In Massachusetts, the amount reported each year greatly exceeds the amount paid out. Only about $500 million has been paid out so far.

Massachusetts has abandoned property laws set in place for three reasons:

1. To protect the rights of property owners and to reunite them with their money.
2. To establish a central place of contact for owners to claim their property.
3. To relieve the holders (businesses and banks) of liability.

You can conduct a search online to see if you are owed any money. If you are, you can fill out a claim. There are no time limits on filing claims – the money will always be there for you. Just try different combinations of your name: try with your middle initial, try without, try full name, try first and last only, etc.

If you find that you have money, you will be given instructions on how to fill out a claim. You might have to send in extra documents, such as tax records, old utility bills, your ID, and so forth. The state of Mass. takes up to twelve weeks to evaluate and process a claim.

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