SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns have more than $38 million in property just waiting to be claimed this year.
The Utah State Treasurer's Office recently announced the Utah Unclaimed Property Division received more than $38.4 million in lost property at the end of 2017. The property is from a variety of sources, including dormant bank accounts, stock certificates and uncollected insurance payouts, explained Utah Treasurer David Damschen.
“We encourage Utahns to check mycash.utah.gov as they file their taxes to see if they have lost property to claim,” he said. “Our staff works hard to maintain record levels of unclaimed property payouts. In (fiscal year) 2017, the Unclaimed Property Division put $24.5 million back into the pockets of rightful owners.”
In fact, last year had a record number of payouts — 20,406 claims, said public information officer Brittany Griffin. Due to increased marketing efforts, the number of claims paid out by the division has tripled since 2011, she added.
Property is by law considered abandoned and must be turned over to the state if the holder of the property has not had contact with the owner for at least three years, a news release stated. Last year, property holders released 327,000 new properties to the Unclaimed Property Division by the Nov. 1 annual reporting deadline, along with the names and last-known addresses of owners. The division currently holds more than $375 million in unclaimed property, Griffin explained.
“Despite our aggressive education campaigns, many people still don’t search for property because they don’t think they could have lost anything. But that is exactly what we need them to do,” said Unclaimed Property Division administrator Dennis Johnston. “There are many ways to lose property. People might move and forget they had a deposit with the utility company, or they might be beneficiaries of life insurance policies they didn’t know existed. Checking to see if you or your friends and relatives have lost property is simple, easy and something everyone should do.”
Griffin said the unclaimed property is usually money, but the division also regularly collects items from abandoned safe deposit boxes that can be claimed. The division has a vault full of interesting items like coins, baseball cards, art and photographs, she noted. Some of the items are periodically sold at auction, and the proceeds remain available to be claimed by the rightful owner, she said.
"We encourage people every tax season — while money is on their minds — to log in to check if they have any new money that's been found, not only for themselves but for their friends or relatives," Griffin said. Other states have similar divisions, she noted, so people should conduct similar searches in other places they have resided.
"One in 5 Utahns have lost money, so it's critically important they log on and make the effort so that we can reunite them with their lost property," she said. While the unclaimed property is held in perpetuity, monies deemed to "never to be reunited" with its rightful owner can be designated for deposit into the Uniform School Fund and Crime Victims Reparations Fund to serve the public good, she said.
Individuals can submit a claim for properties of deceased relatives if they can prove they are the rightful heir, the release stated. In a case where there is more than one heir, they can request their portion of the claim.
For more information and to search property, visit mycash.utah.gov or call 801-715-3300.