Under Wisconsin State Statute, the Office of the State Treasurer promotes the Unclaimed Property Program. Our office is dedicated to helping Wisconsinites reunite with their money and/or property through this program in partnership with the Department of Revenue, which administers the program.
The Unclaimed Property law was enacted in 1970 to enable Wisconsin residents to search in one place for missing funds. After one to five years of inactivity, Wisconsin businesses are required to turn over all unclaimed money, stock, and safe deposit box contents to the Department of Revenue. This process relieves businesses from the expense and liability associated with carrying unclaimed property on their financial records. Most importantly, the process benefits Wisconsin residents because the state makes an active effort to reunite all rightful owners with their unclaimed property.
What is Unclaimed Property?
Unclaimed property is any financial asset that hasn't had owner activity for a period of one year or more and the holder of the asset is not able to contact the owner. Types of property include:
- Savings or Checking Accounts
- Uncashed Dividends
- Stocks and Mutual Funds
- Customer deposits or overpayments
- Certificates of deposit
- Credit Balances
- Matured Life Insurance Policies
- Uncashed death benefit checks
Property becomes unclaimed or abandoned when there isn't owner activity on the account for a period of one to five years (depending on the type of property) and is reportable to the Department of Revenue (DOR) if the holder of the asset does not make contact with the owner as a result of due diligence. A holder may include a bank, savings institution, credit union, securities brokerage firm, mutual fund company, insurance company, business or utility company.
What efforts are made to find the rightful owners?
The Department of Revenue has a number of methods to try and locate owners, including:
- Maintaining an online searchable database of unclaimed property
- Annually advertising unclaimed property and its owners in newspapers throughout the state
- Matching the names of unclaimed property owners with public record information
- Matching the names and social security numbers of unclaimed property owners with Wisconsin tax records
The Office of the State Treasurer works to uplift these efforts and ensure unclaimed property owners are connected with DOR to process their claims.
How can you avoid having your property turned over to the state?
Here are 10 ways to ensure your money doesn't end up in the Unclaimed Property Program:
- Make sure that you update your address with insurance companies, investor relations and utility providers.
- Promptly cash all refunds, rebates, and dividend checks.
- Respond to stock shareholder service requests for action.
- Resolve insurance claims in full.
- Identify co-owners or beneficiaries of financial and investment accounts.
- Automatic withdrawal for state deposit box rental fees.
- Purchase cashier's checks and money orders at financial institutions where you have accounts.
- Use store or vendor credits within 1 year.
- Update financial/investment accounts following marriage, divorce, death of spouse or name change.
- Inventory type/location of financial assets or accounts and provide list to trusted advisor/friend.