Special to The Sun
Q: How can I find out if the government is holding unclaimed property for me?
A: Last week, we discussed the purpose of government unclaimed property programs. Every state has a system dedicated to reuniting owners with their long lost property. This week, we’ll look at how this property comes into the hands of the state and how owners can collect it.
Sometimes the owner of “unclaimed property” knows he owns the property, but has not been in contact with the person or company that holds the property for some time, and the holder cannot find the owner. In other cases, the rightful owner of the property has no idea he owns the asset. This happens frequently after the death of the original owner. The owner’s heirs do not know the decedent owned the property, and so never attempt to collect it. Often, unclaimed property is in the form of product rebates, refunds of unused insurance premiums, refunds of utility deposits and the like.
When the holder of the property has had no contact with its owner for a certain amount of time — the length of time is set by law and varies according to the type of property involved — the holder is required to send the property to the Oklahoma State Treasurer’s office with a report identifying the owner as accurately as possible. The Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property office holds the property and attempts to contact the owner. The Unclaimed Property Division publishes lists of owners for which it is holding property. In addition, a full list of owners’ names is provided online at http://www.ok.gov/treasurer/Unclaimed_Property/.
Everyone should make a habit of periodically checking the list.
If you find your name, or the name of a deceased parent or other family member on the list, you can begin an inquiry to identify the asset, verify your ownership, and collect payment. The system will initially tell you whether the value of the asset is more or less than $100. When you prove your identity, the Unclaimed Property Division will be able to tell you the exact nature of the asset and its estimated value.
The process required to collect unclaimed property varies with the type and value of the asset and the status of ownership. Oklahoma’s system is excellent, and the treasurer’s staff is dedicated and helpful. You can email or call the Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Division with questions or for help.
MATT HOPKINS is an attorney for Lester, Loving & Davies P.C. More information is available at lldlaw.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.