A common question at the reference desk is how to find money or property that may have gone unclaimed due to forgotten accounts, insurance policies, uncashed checks, or death. Few people realize that all states are required by law to return unclaimed assets to their rightful owners.

According to The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administration (NAUPA), all states, U.S. territories and some Canadian provinces (Quebec, Alberta, and British Columbia) have programs that actively search for the owners of unclaimed property.

The NAUPA website houses state databases that provide a starting point for finding unclaimed family money or property. A click on a state from the website’s map will lead to that state’s unclaimed property web page. The search is free.

Michigan’s Department of Treasury includes links to Michigan’s Money Quest, a database for unclaimed property in the State of Michigan; the NAUPA website; and the Missing Money website. If unclaimed property is found, there is a link to the Initial Unclaimed Property Inquiry Form.

NAUPA’s website includes tips on keeping one’s property from becoming lost. They suggest the following:

  • Contact institutions that hold your money or property yearly, or whenever an address or marital status changes.
  • Keep accurate records of all financial accounts and insurance policies. Include bank account names, addresses and account numbers.
  • Don’t forget about rental security and utility deposits when moving
  • Cash all dividend checks, paychecks, and insurance settlements promptly
  • Keep accurate records of any safety deposit boxes and make sure an extra key is given to a trusted person
  • Prepare and file a will or a trust with detailed information about assets

Be sure to check out the Monroe County Library System for books that will assist in personal record-keeping and various aspects of estate-planning.