Washington State Owes More Than $1 Billion in Unclaimed Property to Its Citizens

In Washington State, the Department of Revenue has received more than $1 billion in unclaimed money and property since 1955! This money has included everything from inactive bank accounts to forgotten stocks and bonds. It seems strange that people would forget about their own money, but they really do. In fact, they do it quite often! Each year, the state acquires millions more in forgotten or lost money. In 2008, for example, the Unclaimed Property Program received $100 million.

If you live in Washington, or have so in the past, there’s a good chance you could have some long forgotten money held in the Dept. of Revenue. Approximately 1.5 million people are owed money. This is about a one in four chance that you are owed some money. This could be an old account you’ve forgotten about, or royalties that were never sent to you, an inheritance from a relative, etc.

If you’ve ever changed addresses, then there’s a chance that you might not have informed every single company you do business with. Also, if you’ve ever changed your name, you might not have received everything that was owed to you. You could still have some unclaimed property in your old name.

The state tries to maintain its database of accounts. The Dept. of Revenue also regularly publishes the names of account owners in newspapers. However, the state of Washington is only able to give out a portion of what it owes each year. It also has to hold an auction every few years to clear out the safe deposit boxes.

Unclaimed money is typically kept in custody by the Dept. of Revenue until the owners come forward. However, there isn’t enough room for safe deposit boxes, so the contents are sold at an auction every three years or so. The last was in 2008, during which year the state sold 4,000 lots for a total of $550,000. The money is kept in accounts for the owners until they or their heirs come to claim it.

You can check to see if you have money at the Dept. of Revenue’s website. Try different versions of your names to see if any unclaimed account appears. If your name is common, try using your middle initial to see if you can narrow the results down. To receive unclaimed Washington State money, you can click on the “Pursue Claim” link, which will lead you to the registration page. You will be provided with information to help you receive your claim.

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