By: Amy Bean Napier
In Florida, as in most states, the state holds and tracks unclaimed property for both individuals and businesses, including associations. In addition to money and securities, unclaimed property includes tangible property such as watches, jewelry, coins, currency, stamps, historical items and other miscellaneous articles from abandoned safe deposit boxes. Based on specific state law, this unclaimed property is held until it’s claimed by its legal and rightful owner.
Recently one of the associations that I work with received a letter from an attorney’s office stating that the State of Florida was in ownership of an uncashed check for $250 from 2004. And for only $50, they would claim the funds on our behalf and send us the leftover $200. States regulate the percentage that these types of companies can charge for these services. In Florida it’s 20% or up to a maximum of $1,000 per account but these limits may be exceeded if the contract you sign contains a full disclosure statement.
Instead of losing $50 and letting that locater company have all the fun, I decided to claim the funds on the behalf of the association. Ahoy matey, let’s go on a treasure hunt!
Florida’s unclaimed property website is located at www.fltreasurehunt.org. This website lists all unclaimed property in Florida and is quite easy to navigate.
After doing my research, the association I work with only had the one unclaimed check but I and my family had over $2000 in unclaimed property that the State of Florida was “holding” for us! Blow Me Down, that was well worth the few hours of time and effort that I spent claiming our riches.
Do you or your company have unclaimed treasures? Here are some tips to help you find those valuables and cash you might not know you have! (Note: these tips are specific to the Florida www.fltreasurehunt.org website but you may find your state’s unclaimed property websites at www.naupa.org.)
Don’t Plunder Away Your Time – The Florida website allows you to search for treasures in many different ways. But if you are searching for multiple businesses, associations and persons, the time you spend searching for swag may take longer than you planned for. Speed up the search process by:
Advanced Search Options – In Florida, you may search by last name and/or company name but also have advanced search options to add in city, state and zip codes. Use these advanced options to narrow down your searches.
Wild Cards – Use wild cards in your search names if the website allows it. In Florida you will find the wildcards * and ? especially helpful. ? will help find a single character. And * will help locate multiple characters. These wildcards become especially helpful in company and association searches because otherwise you have to match the exact spelling and wording of the legal name.
Be Prepared to Claim Your Loot – Gather the information you will need prior to starting your treasure hunt to ensure you can claim your treasure quickly. Important information to have for your Florida treasure hunt includes:
Legal Company or Association Name – in Florida you want to enter this as it is listed by the Division of Corporations, Florida Department of State. You will also want to know what who the listed officers are as the loot must be claimed by one of them or on their behalf.
Driver’s License Number for individuals and or Tax ID Numbers for companies and associations.
Current contact information of where you want the treasure sent. In Florida they ask for your address, email and a daytime phone number.
Be a Patient Buccaneer – Once you complete the application process, the actual disbursement of funds can take up to 90 days (in Florida). But blimey, just remember that until today, you didn’t even know this treasure existed.
So go ahead, walk the plank to your own treasures today!