Frequently Asked Questions
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1. How does property become "unclaimed?"
Under the Wyoming Uniform Unclaimed Property Act property becomes "unclaimed" when the owner has not exercised any control over his funds or cannot be contacted after a specified period of time, usually five years.
Five general reasons why funds become unclaimed:
- Loss of communication - owner does not notify of address change.
- Oversight - owner does not complete required information updates.
- Mail lost or returned to the holder (entity "holding" the unclaimed funds) by the Post Office - no follow-up by the holder.
- Mail received by the owner - no action taken.
- Holder (entity "holding" the unclaimed funds) did not perform due diligence.
2. What types of property become unclaimed?
Unclaimed property includes, but is not limited to:
insurance policies, endowments, and annuities
moneys distributable from trusts
uncashed insurance claim payments
safe deposit box contents
3. Who administers the law?
The Wyoming State Treasurer's Office, Unclaimed Property Division, is the custodian of the property on behalf of the owner.
4. Why does the State collect unclaimed money and property?
There are three major reasons Wyoming has an unclaimed property law:
- To protect unclaimed property and return it to its true owners or heirs. The law provides a convenience to the citizens of Wyoming. When the Unclaimed Property Division holds unclaimed or abandoned property, or money, people have one place to look instead of dozens when they are trying to track down forgotten bank accounts and other property.
- The Unclaimed Property Division guarantees that the money will be safe indefinitely, even if the original financial institution should happen to close, provided the money was turned over to us prior to the closure.
- All Wyomingites benefit from unclaimed property that is never claimed by the owners because the interest generated from these funds is used to reduce the amount of money to finance state government. The State Treasurer's office invests the money while the Unclaimed Property Division is searching for the rightful owners.
5. Does the State simply go in and take the money?
No. Unclaimed property is remitted to the Unclaimed Property Division only after two things have occurred:
- There has been no owner-generated activity on the account for five years (as a general rule);
- and the holder's attempt to contact the owner fails.
If these attempts are unsuccessful, the money is remitted to the Unclaimed Property Division for custody. Under the Unclaimed Property Act, the funds forever belong to the owner or heirs.
6. Is Wyoming the only state with this kind of law?
No. As a matter of fact, all states have some type of unclaimed property law and many are similar to those in Wyoming. You should contact every state in which you have resided to see if they are holding unclaimed property in your name.
7. What attempts are made to find the rightful owners?
Under the law, the "holder" (banks, corporations, financial institutions, safe deposit companies, insurance companies, etc.) must make an effort to locate the true owners. If they are unsuccessful, they are to report the names and last known addresses of the owners to the Unclaimed Property Division. The Division performs due diligence upon receipt of accounts with a value of $10 or more. The Division places ads in Wyoming newspapers in February or March of each year.
The list of owners’ accounts which have been held for two years or more is available on our website (www.wywindfall.gov) and a list indicating the names and addresses by county is mailed quarterly to the respective county clerk's office. People can contact our office for a “complete” name search. A listing of unpaid owners is available to the public for viewing in our office by appointment.
There is no time limit to claim your money. Unclaimed funds are held forever until the owner, or his/her heir, claims the funds.
8. I've lived at the same address for 20 years. Why didn't the holder (entity "holding" the unclaimed funds) contact me directly?
The holder or entity holding unclaimed property is required by law to contact owners within 120 days before turning the funds over to the state (due diligence). One of the five (5) reasons cited above may be why the owner is not notified prior to the funds being turned over to the state.
9. Will the State return my money?
Absolutely! All you have to do is file a claim and be able to prove that you are the rightful owner, or heir to the rightful owner. This is usually a simple process.
10. Do I have to pay a fee to get my money back?
No! If the State is holding your money, you do not have to pay a fee of any kind. This is a public service we provide. Sometimes a "finder," sometimes known as an heirfinder, private investigator or researcher will offer to return unclaimed money for a fee. While these private firms may be performing a service in some respect, if the money they have found is in the hands of the State, it can be reclaimed without paying any fees.
In Wyoming, a contract for locating or returning funds is not enforceable for 12 months before the property is to be reported AND 24 months after the unclaimed funds are turned over to the State. This means that a contract written for locator or finder services during these time frames is not enforceable.
If you have been contacted by a researcher who has "found" money for you, we urge you to be cautious before signing any agreement and do not pay an advanced fee for researching services. Call the Unclaimed Property Division if you are contacted by a "finder" before signing a contract. Remember, our services are free.
11. What happens to money that is never claimed by the owner?
Owners or heirs can always claim their property. There is no time limit on claiming your money from the Unclaimed Property Division.
Although the Unclaimed Property Division often is successful in reuniting people with their money, many owners never can be located. Some may have moved to another state. Others may feel the amount involved simply is not enough to file a claim. In some cases, the owner has died and left no heirs.
The money that is never claimed goes to benefit all Wyomingites. Unclaimed dormant accounts and other funds are deposited in the Unclaimed Property Fund. The interest earned in excess of the expenses to administer the office is deposited in the State's General Fund. The principal amount turned over to the State always belongs to the owner, and can always be claimed.
12. What should I do if my name appears on a list of unclaimed or abandoned property?
If you see your name, call us at 307-777-5590 or write the Unclaimed Property Division (2515 Warren Avenue, Suite 502, Cheyenne, WY 82002). Identify yourself, verify if you lived at the address of record and where you saw your name listed. A letter will be sent to you with instructions for claiming your account.
13. How can I keep my money from being turned over to the State?
Here are some things you can do:
- Before you move, be sure to give your new address to banks and others with whom you do business.
- Don't forget security or utility deposits; contact the telephone company, the electric company and any others with whom you have placed a deposit.
- If you leave a job, make sure your former employer has your current address.
- Make sure someone knows you have a safe deposit box or mineral interests.
- Make a list of all of your accounts.
- Keep your accounts active by staying in contact with your banks and other financial institutions.
- Cash all checks for dividends, insurance benefits and wages. If you stop receiving dividends, contact the company that issues the dividends.
14. How can I protect my assets?
- File all important and vital documents in a special place.
- Keep thorough records.
- Prepare a will.
- Advise personal contacts.
- Advise business contacts.
- Simplify and consolidate.
- Be prompt with your safe-deposit box payment.
- Request what is yours.
- Cash all dividend, interest, and other checks immediately regardless of amounts.
- Stock proxy cards should be voted.