In Missouri, unclaimed money is handled by the Missouri State Treasurer’s Office. The State Treasurer operates an Unclaimed Property website, which it calls Missouri’s Largest Lost and Found:
Although you may be able to locate your unclaimed property at the Missouri Unclaimed Property website, it is not the only place you should look for any abandoned or missing property. Instead, if you want to increase your chances of finding all of your missing property, you want to look in more than a single state database. First, even if you have never had any contacts outside of Missouri, you probably have had financial contacts with the federal government. In addition, it is very possible for people to establish financial contacts in other states, even if they have never lived outside of the state of Missouri. That is why we have created a complete guide for recovering unclaimed money in Missouri.
Even if you have run an unclaimed property search in the past, you probably have questions about how to find and recover abandoned property. This article answers some of the most frequently asked questions about finding and claiming abandoned property. These questions include: What is the definition of unclaimed money/ unclaimed property? Are unclaimed money, unclaimed property, abandoned money, and abandoned property the same thing? How does property get labeled as abandoned or unclaimed? What steps do I follow to run an unclaimed property/money search? What sites can I go to run an unclaimed property search? What are Missouri’s unclaimed property laws and where can I find them? Does the state of Missouri have resources to help me find unclaimed property? Will I need to look multiple places in order to find unclaimed money? What does Missouri’s unclaimed property database do? Are their sites other than my state’s unclaimed property website that I should visit when I run an unclaimed property search? Now that I have located my unclaimed property, how do I file a claim for that property? Will I need to prove my identity or ownership to claim property? Once I have located unclaimed property, how do I file a claim for that property? I have been contacted by a finder/locator service; what do they do? Do I need to use a finder service to search for or claim unclaimed property?
Missouri’s State Treasurer is responsible for managing money that is handed over by holders, which are financial institutions, government agencies, businesses, and other organizations. They turn over cash and the contents of safety deposit boxes after there has been no document transaction or contact with the property owner for five years. Approximately 10 percent of the people in Missouri have unclaimed property. In addition, Missouri has a system set up to donate unclaimed property to charitable organizations. You can choose from 20 different charities if you choose to donate your unclaimed property.
Missouri’s unclaimed property website is located at https://www.treasurer.mo.gov/unclaimedproperty/:
After starting at the Missouri database, you want to expand your search to include other areas. Missouri will only have information for property that has been placed in the custody of the state of Missouri. You may have contacts out of the state. You probably have contacts with the federal government; if you have ever had federal income taxes withheld from your paycheck, then you may have tax refund money that you have not received. In addition, even if you have never left the state, you may have some financial contacts out of state. For example, out-of-state relatives may have opened accounts for your or purchased bonds for you. In addition, it is possible for business contacts through work or insurance to establish financial contacts out-of-state.
Because there are several steps involved when you begin an unclaimed money search, it can feel a little overwhelming. The good news is that all states, most territories, and several branches of the federal government have online websites that make searching for abandoned property simple. They also have step-by-step instructions for claiming your unclaimed money or property.
What is Unclaimed Money?
For each state, there is a legal definition of what constitutes unclaimed property/ unclaimed money. In Missouri, unclaimed property is property for which there have been no documented transactions or other contacts with the original owners for a statutorily defined period of time. Generally, that statutory period of time is five years. Certain types of property are likely to become unclaimed property. These property types include: stocks, bonds, cash from bank accounts, property in safe deposit boxes, uncollected insurance policy proceeds, utility deposits, wages from past jobs, and government refunds. Other types of property never become unclaimed money, including real property and cars, boats, and other motor vehicles.
How Much Unclaimed Money is in Missouri?
Missouri’s State Treasurer has almost $1 billion in unclaimed property. Though the amounts vary because of constant claims and constantly reported unclaimed money, estimates were that the state had custody of $988 million in unclaimed property. In addition, the state receives the contents of approximately 1,000 safety deposit boxes each year. There are 4.8 million owners who have unpaid claims. In addition to the unclaimed money available in Missouri, Missouri residents may have claims in other areas. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) is an organization that tracks unclaimed money and property throughout the United States. According to NAUPA, there is currently around $42 billion in unclaimed property in the United States.
Missouri Unclaimed Money Finder
Missouri’s unclaimed property locator can be found at: https://www.treasurer.mo.gov/UnclaimedProperty/Main.aspx:
The Missouri Treasurer is responsible for holding property for every county in Missouri, including: Adair, Andrew, Athison, Audrain, Barry, Barton, Bates, Benton, Bollinger, Boone, Buchanan, Butler, Caldwell, Callaway, Camden, Cape Girardeau, Carroll, Carter, Cass, Cedar, Chariton, Christian, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Cole, Cooper, Crawford, Dade, Dallas, Daviess, De Kalb, Dent, Douglas, Dunklin, Franklin, Gasconade, Gentry, Greene, Grundy, Harrison, Henry, Hickory, Holt, Howard, Howell, Iron, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Knox, Laclede, Lafayette, Lawrence, Lewis, Lincoln, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Madison, Maries, Marion, McDonald, Mercer, Miller, Mississippi, Moniteau, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, New Madrid, Newton, Nodaway, Oregon, Osage, Ozark, Pemiscot, Perry, Pettis, Phelps, Pike, Platte, Polk, Pulaski, Putnam, Ralls, Randolph, Ray, Reynolds, Ripley, St. Charles, St. Clair, Ste. Genevieve, St. Francois, St. Louis, St. Louis City, Saline, Schuyler, Scotland, Scott, Shannon, Shelby, Stoddard, Stone, Sullivan, Taney, Texas, Vernon, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Webster, Worth, and Wright.
At the Missouri Unclaimed Property website, you can run searches with a last name, first name format. You can search by last name only, as well as by first and last name. You can also search by business name:
The more information you have, the more narrowly you can tailor your search results. This can be very important because if you run a search with only a last name, especially if you have a common surname, you may get so many results that running the search does little to help you find your property. For example, we ran the above search using the last name “Smith.” The search returned 74,314 results. Now, you can view all of those results to see if any match your search, or you can try narrowing your search by entering even just a few letters of a first name:
If you are not able to narrow down your search beyond the last name, you can find additional information. As you see above, for each unclaimed property listed, Missouri provides the last known address if it is available, the city, the state, the property ID, and the amount of the claim. If the claim is over $50, then the amount of the claim is not listed in order to try to reduce the chance of fraudulent claims.
If you identify claims that you believe are yours, then you have a “select” button on the left of each claim. Clicking on the “select” button adds those claims to your list:
Once you have selected all of the properties that you want to claim, you can opt to have your search results emailed to you or to another recipient. To send the email to someone else, you will have to enter your email and your name, which will appear in the email to the third party recipient:
Once you have finished selecting your claims, you can begin the process of filing your claim by selecting the file a claim button:
Selected claims will appear like this:
Choosing to file a claim gets you to the beginning of the claim filing process, where you will be asked to provide some additional information, including your relationship to the original owner, the last four digits of your social security number, your birth year, and some information about the original owner:
Unclaimed Money Laws in Missouri
Missouri’s unclaimed property law is located at 2012 Missouri Revised Statutes Title XXIX, Chapter 447:
Missouri Unclaimed Money FAQ
How long does Missouri hold unclaimed money?
You do not have a time limit to file your claim, as Missouri will hold unclaimed money/property indefinitely. If the property was reported to the Missouri treasurer as an interest-bearing account, then the treasurer will pay interest, but only for a period of seven years:
Examples of Unclaimed Money
It is easier to describe what type of asset does not become unclaimed property than it is to list all of the types of property that can become abandoned property. Real property and motor vehicles are the two main types of property that do not become unclaimed property. Some of the most common examples of property that is considered unclaimed property are: the contents of savings accounts, the contents of checking accounts, the contents of safe deposit boxes, uncashed checks, deposits, credits, stocks and bonds.
Does state of MO make efforts to locate owners?
Yes. Missouri publishes the name of people on the unclaimed property list in local newspapers to help them find their property.
Other sources to search besides MO state database?
We already warned you at the beginning of this how-to guide that you would have to search multiple sites to run a complete unclaimed property search. Keep reading to find out what other sites you need to include for a comprehensive search.
First, we suggest you make a list of all of the states that you should include in your search. The obvious place to start is by including any states where you have ever resided. However, if you have any deceased relatives then you also want to include states where they resided. Finally, think about whether you may have out-of-state business contacts. Did you ever purchase a financial instrument, such as a gift certificate, traveler’s check, or a money order in another state? If so, it is possible that you might be on their registry. In addition, if you have an employer that is headquartered out of state or purchased insurance through an out-of-state company, you may have unclaimed property in those states.
Once you have compiled your lists of states to check, you want to make sure and check out the national-level sites that are an important part of any unclaimed property search. The four ones we always suggest people search are: the Life Insurance Policy Locator, the National Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the Internal Revenue Service, and the U.S. Treasury.
While you may not have contacts with any other federal sources for unclaimed money, we absolutely recommend that you include the Internal Revenue Service in your search. This is because of the IRS’s policy about forwarding checks; they do not forward tax refunds checks that are returned to the IRS as undeliverable:
In fact, the IRS is well aware that the non-forwarding policy can lead to people missing their refund checks. It is so common, that the IRS has even set up a special Where’s My Refund? page:
Another important source for unclaimed property is the U.S. Treasury. Treasure bonds do not generally escheat to the states, and the U.S. Treasury has over $17 billion in unclaimed savings bonds. Of course, if bonds are held in safety deposit boxes, then Missouri may have custody of the bonds. The reason we suggest that this is an important site to check is because people may receive bonds as gifts and not even know that they have them. The U.S. Treasury has actually made the process of finding and claiming abandoned savings bonds relatively difficult, after years of having a relatively simple process. For more information, you can visit the Treasury Direct website, or call them by phone at 844-284-2676. You can also write to the Bureau of Public Debt.
Another great source for unclaimed property is unclaimed pension benefits. Many people actually forget about their pension benefits and fail to claim them. So many, in fact, that there is actually $400 million in unclaimed pension benefits and over 70,000 potential claimants. They are federally guaranteed by the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation:
The final national site that you should check which is independently, and not related to the federal government, is the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Life Insurance Policy Locator Service. It is an organization of life insurance companies. They operate a website that can help you discover if you have unpaid insurance benefits:
How can I prevent my property from becoming lost or unclaimed?
While we are happy to help people located their unclaimed property, the best practice is to try to avoid losing your property in the first place. There are a few simple steps you can follow to keep track of your property and help keep it from becoming abandoned.
The most basic step is to make detailed records of every financial account you open, at the time you open it. For any existing accounts, make the record now. These detailed records need to include all of the following information: the physical location where you opened the account, the contact information for the bank, your account numbers, and the name you used to open the account.
Make sure and contact all of your account holders at least once every three years.
Cash all checks as soon as received.
Respond to any requests for information or contact from your financial institution in a timely manner.
Designate a trusted individual who will have access to your financial information in the event of your death or incapacitation.
Notify all holders of any important changes in your personal information, including name changes, address changes, and divorces or deaths.
How do I make sure my heirs know where my assets are if I die?
The most important step is to consolidate all of your financial account information and designate a trusted individual who will have access to that account information in the event of your death. Please do not make the mistake of assuming that a will is enough to ensure that your heirs have access to your assets. Make sure a trusted person knows where to locate your financial records, passwords, and any keys that they need to open safety deposit boxes or other storage areas.
Should I hire a finder to conduct the search?
This is one question that we cannot answer for you. What we can do is explain what finder services are and the pros and cons of hiring one to work for you.
Finder services, also known as locator services, are services that charge a fee to run searches for unclaimed property and, if they find the property, file a claim on your behalf. The pros of hiring a finder services are: they run a search and save you the time and effort involved in the search. The cons of hiring a finder services are: they charge you for services that you could do yourself for free and you have to be careful when picking your finder service.
Why is it so important for you to be careful when picking a finder service? A locator needs your personal information in order to run searches and process claims. That means that a fake locator service could easily abuse your personal information. Therefore, you want to make sure and only use legitimate locator services.
Why does Missouri take possession of unclaimed property?
Like other states, Missouri takes possession of unclaimed property for two main reasons. First, states can use the property in their possession to make money. Second, by taking possession of abandoned property and publishing lists of property owners, the state can help reunite actual owners with their abandoned property.
If you follow the steps we have outlined in our how-to-guide, you can easily find your unclaimed property, whether or not it is located in Missouri. The search may be time consuming, but the process is easier than you probably think it is.