The State of California is currently in possession of more than $5.7 billion in Unclaimed Property belonging to approximately 11.6 million individuals and organizations. Although unclaimed money in California is still rising, John Chiang, California state controller, continues to pursue his intent to restore public confidence that their lost property will be safeguarded by the state until property owners can claim what is rightfully theirs.
Owners or heirs may claim their property directly from the State Controller without any costs. However, if you are represented by an investigator or asset locator, a fee not exceeding 10% of the value of the property may be charged, as per Section 1582 of California’s Unclaimed Property Law. California Unclaimed Property Law does NOT include real estate property. This law is enacted to prevent holders of Unclaimed Property from using your money and taking it into their business income. It gives the State an opportunity to return your money and provides California citizens with a single source, the State Controller’s Office, to check for Unclaimed Property that may be reported by holders from around the nation.
The State is acquiring unclaimed property through California’s Unclaimed Property Law, which requires “holders” such as corporations, business associations, financial institutions, and insurance companies to annually report and deliver property to the Controller’s Office where there has been no customer contact for three years. Often the owner forgets that this account exists, or moves without leaving a forwarding address. In some cases, the owner dies and the heirs have no idea of the property.
California State Controller, John Chiang said “I want Californians to know that I am putting them first. I realize there is much more work to do, and I will continue to improve the State’s ability to put property back in the rightful owners’ hands.”
Businesses and financial institutions are required to send a notice to your last known address, informing that your account will be transferred to the State Controller for safekeeping if you do not notify the institution of your intent to maintain account. If the institution is not in a position to contact you, or if you fail to contact the institution, your account is remitted to the State. The State Controller’s Office will now send a notice informing you of your Unclaimed Property, provided it can find your current address by matching your reported Social Security number with the Franchise Tax Board’s records. The State Controller will also publish a notice in newspapers of general circulation in each county annually to inform California residents that they may have unclaimed property.
Residents of California are hoping once again that the State Controller’s promises and efforts bear fruit and are able to reunite the unclaimed money in California with the rightful owners. State Controller office has promised no stone will be left unturned in fulfilling these promises and curtail the rising graph of Californian unclaimed money amounts.