All About Unclaimed and Abandoned Property in the State of Michigan

The Michigan Uniform Unclaimed Property Act began in 1995, and was established to protect unclaimed assets and reunite them with their rightful owners. If the owners have passed on, the State Treasurer tries to reunite the property with the heirs. Even if the holder (financial institution or business) is no longer in operation, the money is still available to rightful owners and/or heirs. Michigan is a “custodial” state, meaning that the unclaimed property is always available. There is no time limit for claiming it.

Approximately one out of every six people in the state of Michigan has money that is unclaimed and held by the state. To date, the state holds more than $1.2 billion in unclaimed money. Each year, Michigan is only able to pay around half of what it receives. In 2008, for instance, the state acquired more than $111 million in abandoned and unclaimed property, and only paid out $64 million in claims.

Most of the unclaimed assets belong to Detroit residents, although people from all counties are in the database. Unclaimed property could be in the form of uncashed checks, money orders, funds from a dormant bank account, unclaimed insurance benefits, unclaimed wages or commissions, uncashed utility deposits, security deposits, safe deposit boxes, and so forth.

How does the state try to reunite owners with their assets? The Michigan Uniform Unclaimed Property Division publishes ads in newspapers to inform citizens of recently added abandoned property accounts, and what can be done to claim the property. However, is the state really doing all it can? After all, it’s only paying out a small amount every year, as the $1.2 billion worth of funds keeps growing.

Some of the unclaimed property belongs to organizations, such as agencies, banks, hospitals, malls, restaurants, and even churches! There are over 100 accounts that belong to churches throughout the state. Some of the accounts also belong to former Michigan residents who now reside in other states.

 Anyone who has ever lived in Michigan should check to see if they are owed any money. There is an online database consisting of information about all of the unclaimed property accounts. Different variations of a name can be entered, and it’s recommended to begin a broad search with just a first and last name. Subsequent searches include the middle initial or middle name can also be conducted.

If a person’s or business’s name comes up in the results, they can write the Unclaimed Property Division and ask for details on how to claim the money. Unfortunately, this process is less straightforward than those of other states. Perhaps if Michigan made it easier for claimants to file a claim, more people would start getting their money back.

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