How Much Are Virginians Owed in Unclaimed or Lost Money?

In the state of Virginia, around $300 million sits in the Commonwealth. This is owed to thousands of Virginians who have unclaimed or lost property. This money belongs to everyday citizens who have lost track of their financial assets. To date, around one in seven people in VA is owed a share of this $300 million. The amount continues to climb each year, and the state has only given half of it back to its rightful owners.

There are a number of reasons why this money has gone unclaimed. Sometimes the owners forget about the money and let it sit in inactive financial accounts. Sometimes the banks, insurance companies, businesses, etc. have trouble identifying the owners. Some of the money belonged to individuals who have passed away, and now the state is unable to identify the heirs.

Virginia state law requires public utilities, banks, and other business entities to report property as unclaimed or abandoned after being unable to get a hold of the owners for a period of time, which varies according to the type of account. Businesses must send out a letter to the owner’s last known address before turning the account over to the state’s Treasury Dept.

In Fairfax County alone, a million dollars has been left unclaimed by many people. According to the state’s Treasury Dept, Virginians “have better odds of having unclaimed property than winning the lottery.” This money comes from a variety of assets, most of which are intangible. Some examples include:

  • Utility deposits and rental deposits
  • Uncashed payroll checks, cashier’s checks, dividends, etc.
  • Gift certificates
  • Bank accounts
  • Stocks, bonds, and mutual funds
  • Royalty payments
  • Life insurance policy proceeds
  • Inheritance money
  • Safe deposit boxes
  • Traveler’s checks

The contents inside of unclaimed safe deposit boxes are also held for some time. However, the state does not have room to store all of the antiques, jewelry, art, priceless memorabilia, etc. These items are sometimes sold at auctions.

Most of the lost money is kept in custody by the state until the owners or their heirs make a claim for it. The Virginia Unclaimed Property Division tries to reach out to owners by publishing their names in state newspapers every year.

If you currently reside in VA, or have in the past, you can search the state’s unclaimed property database to see if your name comes up. Try typing different combinations of your name, as it could appear in a variety of ways in the database. You can fill out a claim form online for yourself, a relative (either living or deceased), or a business with which you have had a connection.

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