Why is There So Much Unclaimed Property in Tennessee?

Since 1978, the state of Tennessee has paid out more than $200 million in unclaimed money. This money includes financial assets and intangible property that have not been claimed by their owners. Many of these accounts were worth hundreds of dollars. However, one lucky widow received $1.3 million in lost stocks and bonds! If the owners don’t claim the money before they die, their heirs or widows can.

Every year, the state still pays out millions. The average claim is $1,000. Unfortunately, Tennessee only pays out about half of what it receives each year. Companies and banks are reporting more unclaimed property than what the state is able to pay out to owners. Part of this reason is that many people don’t believe that they could actually have money. They think that having unclaimed or lost money would be too good to be true.

The money is there. The money is always safeguarded by the state until somebody comes along to claim it. Unfortunately, there is a lot of false information out there so it can be difficult to get the right owners to come forward. Those who are interested in finding out of they have any money only take the time to do one search, not knowing that some databases are incomplete. Not only should they search more than one database, they should also call the TN State Treasurer’s office to learn more about unclaimed property.

The state does publish names in local newspapers and set up tables at fairs. However, not everyone reads newspapers or attends fairs. Another problem is that a lot of people don’t know what unclaimed property is. It’s not land, houses, or vehicles. It includes financial assets such as checking accounts, bonds, stocks, savings accounts, certificates of deposits, utility deposits, uncashed money orders, refunds, benefit payments, and so forth.

The TN State Treasury Dept. encourages people to check the state’s online database, and to call for more information. Searchers need to type in a combination of information, including parts of their names and various cities. If someone finds that he/she has money, there is a “Details” button he/she can click on to learn more about the property. If it’s worth claiming, they will be given information on how to fill out the form and send it in.

The fastest way to claim the money is to print out the completed claim form and send it in with the appropriate documentation, such as proof of address and a copy of the claimant’s ID and SS #. It can take up to ten weeks for a claim to be processed. If all the information is accurate and complete, the claimant will receive the check in no time at all.

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