WV Unclaimed Property – West Virginians Owed More Than $150 Million
Approximately one in three West Virginians are owed money by the state. To date, the state has had hundreds of millions in unclaimed property. Around half of it has been given back to owners since Treasurer Perdue took office. However, there is still more than $150 million left unclaimed, and millions of more is reported every single year. This $150 million belongs to around 715,000 people and businesses.
Most of the accounts belong to residents and businesses in cities such as Charleston, Wheeling, and Beckley. Newspapers in cities throughout the state have an annual listing of all of the people entitled to the unclaimed money. Such efforts to reach out to the owners seem to work, since in 2008, WV managed to pay out 82% of what it took in for that fiscal year. Many other states only manage to pay out half of what they take in each year.
Still, $150 million remains in the West Virginia State Treasury, so more citizens need to be aware of the Unclaimed Property Division. As it ranks as the #2 poorest state in the country, it’s important that residents of WV are aware that they could have some money owed to them. Some of the money also belongs to former residents who have moved to other states. The financial accounts don’t transfer between states whenever people or businesses move.
In WV, unclaimed properties include bank accounts, stocks, bonds, matured insurance policies, mutual funds, safe deposit boxes, and even weapons that have been abandoned by their owners! These items are kept safe until the owners or their heirs claim them. WV places among the country’s top states in regards to the rate of returns, although it sometimes takes years for property to be claimed.
How long does an account have to sit inactive before the holder can turn it over to the state government? The amount of time varies, depending on the property type. In West Virginia, the time varies from one to seven years, except in regards to traveler’s checks, which must go uncashed for fifteen years before turned over to the WV State Treasury. Unclaimed law enforcement cash and securities can be turned over after just six months of being dormant.
WV has a searchable online database for residents and former residents who want to see if they have any money. Claims can be printed out and mailed to the State Treasury Office along with proof of the owner’s identity. Instructions are available online to make the claiming process easy to understand.