The Department of Revenue (DOR) operates an unclaimed property program holding assets of both businesses and individuals, such as unclaimed paychecks or the contents of abandoned safe deposit boxes. Property may be unclaimed for a variety of reasons but can be returned to the owner following proper verification. The state does not charge a fee to recover the property, and anyone can use DOR’s Unclaimed Property Search to see if they have unclaimed property. Here’s how to access the list:
Go to: etax.dor.ga.gov/unclaimedproperty/main.aspx. If you have any additional questions or experience problems using the online search, you can call DOR’s Unclaimed Property Program at 855-329-9863 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org for help with property claims.
The program was created as a result of the Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act (O.C.G.A. 44-12-190 et seq.) which, according to DOR, “protects the rights of owners of abandoned property and relieves those holding the property of the continuing responsibility to account for such property.”
An individual may possess another’s property for a specified “dormancy period” before they can hand the property over to the state. The individual handing over the property — the “holder” — must also write a report describing the property and giving any important details that can help the state find the property’s rightful owner. The state then serves as custodian of the property when its owner cannot be located.
Examples of unclaimed property remitted to the state include savings and checking accounts, unclaimed wages, dividends, credit balances and safe deposit box contents. Dormancy periods vary for different property types. For example, the dormancy period for unclaimed wages is one year, while the state can be given custody of uncashed travelers’ checks after a 15-year dormancy period.
Finding property might make for a brighter Christmas
According to DOR, the program received over 900,000 individual properties for approximately 800,000 owners in FY2015. The property values ranged from $0.01 to $463,289 — all are ready to be returned to the appropriate owner. The property may come from old utility or cable service account balances or forgotten stocks and bonds.
DOR states that the only tangible (non-cash) property items that it accepts for storage are from bank safe deposit boxes. Some of the most common items are wills, deeds, photos, and letters, while some of the most unique or unusual items include baby teeth, floppy disks, keys and costume jewelry. With so many people having unclaimed property held by the state, it is possible you may have assets you weren’t even aware of.
Other states also provide Web sites similar to Georgia’s to search for property you may have lost or forgotten about over the years. The Web site www.unclaimed.org of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) lets individuals search for unclaimed property in multiple states. However, be aware of companies that charge a fee for services that are usually provided free of charge by states.
Filing claims to restore ownership
The department processes claims for three categories of property holders: personal claims, business claims, or estate/heir claims. Personal claims are for individuals that can provide verification of identity and rightful ownership of unclaimed property. If someone finds property that might belong to them after searching on the DOR website, they can file a personal claims request form online at the DOR Web site. The online form will send an email to the customer service team, which will work to verify ownership of property prior to sending you a claim form.
Unfortunately if the property is not yours, DOR is not able to send a notification, due to the high volume of requests filed. So, if you don’t get a response from DOR after filing a personal claim, it probably means that DOR could not verify that the property was yours.
In fiscal year 2015, a total of 25,102 personal claims with a combined value of $22,107,888 were returned to owners.
Business claims are released to appointed business representatives. In FY15, 662 claims valued at approximately $9 million total were returned to owners identified as businesses. If a business wants to claim property, it should contact Ravinesh Jatan at email@example.com with an authorization letter on a company letterhead specifically appointing a business representative to make the claim request.
Estate or heir claims may be processed if a property owner is deceased. Estate or heir claims can be made by the executor of an estate or the responsible payee of the deceased owner’s funeral bill. In FY15, 698 claims with a combined estimated value of $5 million were returned for estate or heir claims.
I may be reached at
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E-mail at Jack.Hill@senate.ga.gov
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