NW REporter

What would you do with found money?

MoneyConsider a few numbers:

$1,180,105,478 (available cash)
11,148,844 (number of owners)
72,295,389 (available shares)
2,266 (available tangibles)

Those are the breakdowns of unclaimed property held by the Washington State Department of Revenue (DOR).

DOR logoDOR is the custodian for unclaimed property. It is charged with administering a program to find the rightful owners (or their heirs) of lost or misplaced property.  The agency is also responsible for educating and providing guidance to holders of unclaimed property to ensure compliance with unclaimed property laws.

DOR launched a new website in 2021, ClaimYourCash.org, designed to be more user-friendly. The free and secure service features a FastTrack process for “instant approval” of some claims, an expanded search function, bilingual videos, FAQs, and the ability for claimants to check the status of their claim.

Since 1955, DOR has returned more than $1.2 million “that people forgot or didn’t know existed.” During the past three fiscal years, more than 471,000 refunds have been processed and $221.5 million has been paid to claimants.

Property is usually considered unclaimed after three years, at which point it is turned over to the state. Banks, retailers, credit unions, utilities, corporations, insurance companies, and governmental entities are among many sources of unclaimed property.

According to DOR, the most common types of unclaimed property include bank accounts; insurance proceeds; stocks, bonds, and mutual funds; utility and phone company deposits; customer/patient credits; refunds (e.g., from memberships); uncashed checks (e.g., payroll, insurance payments, or travelers’ checks); money orders; and safe deposit box contents. (DOR holds tangible property, such as items found in a safe deposit box, for at least two years before it is auctioned off. Proceeds are then held indefinitely for the owner to claim.)

Unclaimed property does not include real estate, vehicles, and most other physical property.

Laws pertaining to unclaimed property began in the U.S. as a consumer protection program. It has evolved to protect not only the owners, but also their heirs and estates. Washington laws (RCW Chapter 63.29) require businesses and other organizations to review their records every year to determine whether they hold any property that meets the definition of unclaimed property.

Revenue’s Unclaimed Property team was selected the 2020-21 Unclaimed Property State of the Year by the Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization. The award recognizes a state that “has gone above and beyond to assist the companies that are required to remit unclaimed property to the state.”

DOR reminds residents that unclaimed property can be prevented by keeping accounts active, such as by making a deposit or withdrawal, updating contact information, and logging into personal accounts.

Does a windfall await you? Start a search by clicking here.