How to Prevent Your Assets from Becoming "Unclaimed" in a Few Easy Steps

Jacob Greene
Published Oct 31, 2023

How to Prevent Your Assets from Becoming "Unclaimed" in a Few Easy Steps

Today we'll be focusing on how to prevent assets from becoming unclaimed.

Remember, even if an asset is reclaimed, only its initial amount can be taken back.

When it comes to unclaimed assets seized by the government, Iowa's previous State Treasurer, Michael Fitzgerald, reports that his office receives millions of dollars a year to hold as "unclaimed assets."

To ensure that your money doesn't end up on his (and other treasurers') desk, he provided these easy tips:


1. Do This with All Checks

Did you receive a check, especially one from a party that would wish to deny you money?

This could be:

  • an ex-spouse paying alimony
  • someone who lost a lawsuit against you
  • anyone you're in an adversarial relationship with who was forced to issue a check to you.
If so, be cautious.

Different states have different laws on how long they can be considered valid.

  • Cashier's checks are generally always valid since they're issued by the bank
  • Personal checks, on the other hand, may only be valid for 30 days

It's important not to delay cashing or depositing a check.

Avoid this by using a bank or credit union with mobile deposit features.

All you'll need to do is:

  1. Endorse the check.
  2. Follow directions.
  3. Take a picture of the front and back of the check.

In most cases, you'll have the money by the next day, at the latest.


2. Provide a Detailed "Asset Report"

Choose someone:

  1. you trust; and
  2. who's likely to outlive you.

Create a document listing the full details of all of your accounts and legally-owned assets.

Give that document to a reliable lawyer.

Then, file a will that makes it very clear that all your assets should go to your chosen designated beneficiary.

Every account you own should also have an "internal beneficiary," or one that is retained by the bank itself.


3. Change Your Address Everywhere

One of the major causes of "unclaimed assets" is frequent relocation.

This is especially true for members of the Armed Forces and others with similarly mobile jobs.

Every time you move, you need to formally change your address with the United States Postal Service (USPS), the only federal entity that keeps track of your new address.

This process is free, and will ensure that any mail sent to your old address will be forwarded to your new one for up to a year.

You should also change your address information with all financial institutions.

Keeping a full list of your assets, as explained in Step 2, can make this task much easier.


What Else Can I Do?

Unfortunately, some situations are unavoidable.

If a loved one passes away suddenly, sometimes there's no way to determine their last will if it isn't available.

That's why it's important to stay on top of current trends in the unclaimed asset market!

Knowing when you're entitled to assets could save you thousands or even millions of dollars.

Better be prepared than sorry later on!

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