California has an Unclaimed Property Program where cash and treasures can be found and reunited with the rightful owners.
What is this program about?
The State Controller's Office (SCO) is in charge of keeping any unclaimed property submitted by holders, such as financial institutions, corporations, business associations and insurance companies. The SCO holds property submitted like stocks, bonds, uncashed checks, safe deposit contents. Some items even come from hospitals or prisons.
California's Unclaimed Property Law was created in 1959 to prevent holders from taking ownership of property when contact with the original owner was lost. The law also allows the state to return property, or money from the sale of the property, to its rightful owner. The SCO lists property from holders across the country and is the single source to check for unclaimed property in California.
Holders are typically allowed to keep property for three years before sending items to the SCO. The holder must send a notice to the last known address of the owner before reporting the property to the SCO. The SCO then notifies the property owner that they can claim their belongings from the holder or the the holder will send the items to the SCO.
There is no deadline for picking up property from the SCO and a property owner can claim their items without any service charge.
How to search for unclaimed property
The SCO's website has an Unclaimed Property Search, where a person can type in their name and city to find any property the state is keeping. There are a number of people in California with the same name so its important to keep in mind, property may belong to a person with the same name. There needs to be documented proof the property belongs to an individual or their heir.
How to claim property
When unclaimed property is found, a claim form must be filed. A Property ID number can be found on the search results page next to a person's name and address. The claim form for the property can be accessed by clicking on the Property ID link. A claim can either be filed electronically or by mail, to be reviewed by the SCO. Once the rightful owner is confirmed, the SCO can mail the items or the person can pick it up from the SCO. It's important to have the correct documentation available when filing a claim to prove identity.
You can read more about the Unclaimed Property Program HERE.
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