Do you ever get the feeling that you might be missing something, or maybe you have forgotten something important? The Bureau of Unclaimed Property, which is operated by the Chief Financial Officer and the Department of Financial Services, just may have some of your property. The program began in 1961, and since then has received $3.3 billion in unclaimed property. Unclaimed property is defined as any financial asset that has been unclaimed, and so considered abandoned by its owner. Property held by the state has included jewelry, watches, collectible coins, historical items, uncashed checks, deposits, unclaimed insurance proceeds, stocks, dividends, items abandoned in a safe deposit box, and even cold hard cash. This unclaimed property is usually retained by the holder for a period of five (5) years, after which it is reported and turned over to the Bureau of Unclaimed Property.
The information given to the Bureau by the holder is recorded and usually includes the name of the original owner, the last known address, social security number (if available), joint owners’ names, and any beneficiaries. The property is then deposited and held in the State of Florida’s School Trust Fund. The funds are used for the benefit of public education until the original owner, or the owners heirs, claims the property. Any interest that is accrued from the property while unclaimed remains in the School Trust Fund, however, the amount reported by the original holder may always be claimed by its proper owner.
The website to go to in order to check to see if you have unclaimed property is www.FLTreasureHunt.org. The Bureau makes it clear that there is no statute of limitations on any of the unclaimed property in Florida, and that account owners, or their beneficiaries or heirs, can claim the property at any time; best of all, it’s free of charge! Once you access the website, which is available 24 hours a day, you are able to search by first and last name to check to see if you might have any unclaimed property; it’s as easy as that. If you do have unclaimed property the website will guide you through what you need to do in order to claim your property. You will have to print out a claim form and send it to the Department of Financial Services with documentation to prove that you are the person who owns the account and/or property. The claim form will advise you of the documentation needed. Once you send in the form, with all required proof, the Bureau has 90 days to process the claim, and return your property to you.
It’s quick, easy, and very worth it, especially if you find that you are entitled to property. If you have any questions the Bureau is available Monday-Friday by calling 1-88-VALUABLE for residents of the state of Florida, or (850) 413-5555 for people outside the State of Florida.