Close this search box.

Table of Contents

Unclaimed Funds


Unclaimed funds refer to money or other financial assets that have been uncollected or unclaimed by their rightful owner or beneficiary over a specified period of time. These funds can originate from various sources, such as forgotten bank accounts, uncashed checks, unclaimed inheritances, and dormant investments. Government agencies and financial institutions typically hold unclaimed funds until the rightful owner comes forward to claim them.


The phonetic transcription of the keyword “Unclaimed Funds” using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is:/ʌnˈkleɪmd fʌndz/

Key Takeaways

  1. Unclaimed Funds are financial assets that have not been claimed by their rightful owners for an extended period of time, leading to them being held and maintained by government agencies or financial institutions.
  2. Owners and potential heirs can actively search for unclaimed funds by contacting government agencies, using dedicated websites, or seeking the help of professional unclaimed property locators.
  3. Claiming unclaimed funds usually requires providing proof of ownership such as identification, documentation, or evidence of the right to claim. Once the claim process is completed successfully, the rightful owner can then receive the funds that were initially unclaimed.


Unclaimed funds are important in the business and finance realm as they represent dormant accounts, uncashed checks, or abandoned assets that have not been claimed by their rightful owners over a certain period. These funds can impact various stakeholders, including individuals, businesses, and government agencies. Unclaimed funds, when identified and managed properly, can provide an opportunity for rightful owners to recuperate their lost or forgotten assets, enabling them to make better financial decisions. In addition, unclaimed funds are often used temporarily by states and provinces for public programs and services, which can also indirectly benefit the community.


Unclaimed funds are an essential component in the realm of finance, serving as a means to safeguard the financial assets of individuals who have lost contact with the respective holding entities, such as banks and other financial institutions. These funds can arise from various sources, including dormant bank accounts, insurance policies, inheritance, forgotten savings accounts, and unclaimed dividends. While the primary objective of unclaimed funds is to prevent the unjust depletion of resources or enrichment of institutions at the expense of the rightful owner, they are also tasked with managing and redistributing these assets effectively and efficiently, thereby benefitting both owners and the economy at large.

The process of managing and returning these unclaimed funds to their rightful owners is of significant importance, as millions of dollars can end up unclaimed each year. To streamline this process, government and regulatory agencies have established dedicated systems and databases to track and store unclaimed funds, thereby ensuring transparency and accuracy. The funds are typically held by the respective agency until the rightful owner or their legal representative claims them. In some cases, unclaimed funds may be used to benefit the broader community through funding public infrastructure, educational projects, and other social initiatives.

However, it is always the onus on the rightful owners to come forward and retrieve these funds, necessitating awareness and concerted efforts from relevant stakeholders. Thus, unclaimed funds play an indispensable role in preserving the financial rights and interests of individuals, while also contributing to the broader economy and social welfare.


1. Unclaimed Bank Accounts: A common example of unclaimed funds is when people forget about their old bank accounts, either because they have moved to a new city, changed banks, or simply lost track of it. If these accounts remain inactive for a certain period (typically three to five years), the bank may be required to report these unclaimed funds to the state’s unclaimed property department. People can search for and claim these forgotten funds through the relevant government agency.

2. Forgotten Utility Deposits: When moving into a rental property, individuals often pay a utility deposit to gas, electric, or water companies to ensure payment of their bills. If they move out or switch utility providers and do not request a refund of the deposit, this money becomes unclaimed. The utility company must then report the unclaimed funds to the state’s unclaimed property department, where individuals can claim their money.

3. Unredeemed Gift Cards and Certificates: Gift cards and certificates can be considered unclaimed funds if they are never redeemed, expire, or if the issuing business shuts down. Depending on the jurisdiction, unredeemed gift cards may eventually become the property of the state, and the remaining value can be claimed through the relevant government agency. Businesses are typically required to report these unclaimed funds to the state after a given period of inactivity.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What are unclaimed funds?

Unclaimed funds refer to money or other financial assets that have not been claimed by their rightful owners for an extended period. These funds could be from dormant bank accounts, uncashed checks, unclaimed insurance policies, uncashed dividends, or abandoned safety deposit boxes, among others.

How do funds become unclaimed?

Funds usually become unclaimed when there is a change in the owner’s contact information, address, or name, and the financial institution is unable to reach the owner. In other cases, the owner might have passed away, and their heirs are unaware of the existence of the funds.

How can I find out if I have unclaimed funds?

To search for unclaimed funds, you can visit the Unclaimed Property division of your state’s treasury department. Most states have an online tool that allows you to search for your name or business. You can also check the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA)’s website, which provides links to each state’s unclaimed property program.

How do I claim my unclaimed funds?

To claim your unclaimed funds, follow the instructions provided by the state’s unclaimed property program. In most cases, you will need to provide proof of identification and any required documentation to verify your ownership of the funds. This may include a Social Security number, birth certificate, or proof of address.

Is there a time limit to claim unclaimed funds?

Generally, there is no time limit to claim unclaimed funds. However, state laws may vary, and some states may have specific time limits for certain types of unclaimed property. It’s always a good idea to check your state’s unclaimed property website for information on time limits.

Can I claim unclaimed funds on behalf of a deceased relative?

Yes, you can claim unclaimed funds on behalf of a deceased relative if you are the rightful heir or beneficiary. You will need to provide proper documentation, such as a death certificate and proof of your relationship to the deceased, to claim the funds.

Do I have to pay taxes on the unclaimed funds I recover?

Unclaimed funds are generally not taxable if they represent the principal amount. However, any interest or dividends earned on the unclaimed funds may be subject to taxes. It is recommended to consult a tax professional to understand your specific tax obligations.

Are there fees associated with claiming unclaimed funds?

There usually are no fees charged by state unclaimed property programs for processing claims. However, if you choose to use a third-party locator service or investigator to identify and recover unclaimed funds, they may charge you a fee or commission for their services.

How long does it take to receive unclaimed funds after filing a claim?

The processing time for unclaimed funds varies depending on the state and specific circumstances of the claim. In general, it may take several weeks to several months to process a claim and receive the funds.

Related Finance Terms

  • Escheatment
  • Dormant Accounts
  • Abandoned Property
  • Asset Recovery
  • Lost Asset Search

Sources for More Information

About Our Editorial Process

At Due, we are dedicated to providing simple money and retirement advice that can make a big impact in your life. Our team closely follows market shifts and deeply understands how to build REAL wealth. All of our articles undergo thorough editing and review by financial experts, ensuring you get reliable and credible money advice.

We partner with leading publications, such as Nasdaq, The Globe and Mail, Entrepreneur, and more, to provide insights on retirement, current markets, and more.

We also host a financial glossary of over 7000 money/investing terms to help you learn more about how to take control of your finances.

View our editorial process

About Our Journalists

Our journalists are not just trusted, certified financial advisers. They are experienced and leading influencers in the financial realm, trusted by millions to provide advice about money. We handpick the best of the best, so you get advice from real experts. Our goal is to educate and inform, NOT to be a ‘stock-picker’ or ‘market-caller.’ 

Why listen to what we have to say?

While Due does not know how to predict the market in the short-term, our team of experts DOES know how you can make smart financial decisions to plan for retirement in the long-term.

View our expert review board

About Due

Due makes it easier to retire on your terms. We give you a realistic view on exactly where you’re at financially so when you retire you know how much money you’ll get each month. Get started today.

Due Fact-Checking Standards and Processes

To ensure we’re putting out the highest content standards, we sought out the help of certified financial experts and accredited individuals to verify our advice. We also rely on them for the most up to date information and data to make sure our in-depth research has the facts right, for today… Not yesterday. Our financial expert review board allows our readers to not only trust the information they are reading but to act on it as well. Most of our authors are CFP (Certified Financial Planners) or CRPC (Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor) certified and all have college degrees. Learn more about annuities, retirement advice and take the correct steps towards financial freedom and knowing exactly where you stand today. Learn everything about our top-notch financial expert reviews below… Learn More