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About the Unclaimed Property Program

 

Unclaimed property of more than $5.7 billion belonging to approximately 11.6 million individuals and organizations can be claimed from the State of California by the rightful owner at any time.

What Is The Unclaimed Property Program? 

The Unclaimed Property program holds property that has been turned over to the State of California for safekeeping by businesses when they lose contact with the property owner(s). The State Controller’s Office holds the property until it is claimed by the owner or their heir(s). 

California’s Unclaimed Property Law requires businesses, associations, financial institutions, and insurance companies (referred to as “Holders”) to annually report and deliver property to the Controller’s Office after there has been no activity on the account or contact with the owner for a period of time specified in the law - generally three (3) years. Often, contact is lost when the owner forgets that the account exists, or moves and does not leave a forwarding address, or the forwarding order expires. In some cases, the owner dies and the heirs have no knowledge of the property.

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Why Does California Have An Unclaimed Property Law?

The Unclaimed Property Law was passed to protect consumers.  It prevents businesses with unclaimed property from keeping your money and using it as business income. The law provides California citizens a single source, the State Controller’s Office, to check for unclaimed property that may be reported by businesses from around the nation, and enables the State to return property, or the net proceeds from any legally required sale of the property, to its rightful owner or their heirs. 

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What Is Unclaimed Property?

Unclaimed Property is generally defined as any financial asset that has been left inactive by the owner for a period of time specified in the law, generally three years. The California Unclaimed Property Law does NOT include real estate. Unused gift certificates are also generally excluded from unclaimed property and are not sent to the State as unclaimed property. The most common types of Unclaimed Property are:

  • Bank accounts and safe deposit box contents
  • Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends
  • Uncashed cashier’s checks and money orders
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Matured or terminated insurance policies
  • Estates
  • Mineral interests and royalty payments
  • Trust funds and escrow accounts

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How Will I Know If My Money Was Sent To The California State Controller's Office?

Businesses and financial institutions (also referred to as "Holders") are required to send a notice to the last known address they have on record informing you that your account will be transferred to the California State Controller's Office for safekeeping if you do not notify the institution that you want to maintain your account. If the institution is unable to contact you, or if you fail to contact the institution, your account is sent to our office, where it will be available for you or your heirs to claim.

To provide you with an opportunity to claim your property from the Holder before your property is transferred to us, you will receive a notice from us informing you that you have unclaimed property that is about to be sent to the State Controller's Office. The notice will provide the information you need to contact the holder to prevent the property from being transferred. The State Controller’s Office also publishes an annual notice in newspapers with general circulation in each county to inform California residents that they may have unclaimed property.

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How Do I Find Out If I Have Unclaimed Property?

Owners or heirs can search for their property directly on the California State Controller's Office website and file a claim for free. Possible ownership may be indicated if the information you provide results in a match. It is important to remember that many people have the same name, so the property listed may not necessarily be yours. We will be able to determine your ownership with the documentation that you provide when you send in the claim. Search now to find out if the California State Controller's Office is holding Unclaimed Property for you.

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How Long Does The State of California Keep Unclaimed Property?

There is no time limit on when an owner or their heirs can claim their property.

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* For more information about the Unclaimed Property Program, visit our Frequently Asked Questions