Most residents of GA State may not be aware about State unclaimed property. If they did, certainly the $684 million Georgia unclaimed property wouldn’t have ballooned to $900 million during the current fiscal year. As mandated by US law, the State collects idle financial assets from various businesses, insurance companies, banks and other financial establishments every year. Financial assets that have been abandoned and whose owners haven’t been located for a a few years are ‘escheated’ to the State as Georgia unclaimed property. Here’s part of an article on Georgia unclaimed money written by an unclaimed property expert:
Georgia’s Unclaimed Property Law or escheat law which originates from feudal laws in England require abandoned and forgotten assets such as bank accounts, income tax refunds, uncashed checks, uncollected wages, insurance premium overpayments, gift certificates, cash dividends on stocks and mineral deposits, and others to be turned-over to the hands of the state after a specified ‘dormancy period’. This period for Georgia is 5 years and less for other financial assets.”
Escheat laws were passed to protect citizens’ lost money- giving the State responsibility for the safekeeping of residents’ unclaimed money and property lest the financial entities holding them keep it for themselves. Some criticize that some States are seizing citizens’ unclaimed funds for the purpose of balancing their budgets. “When they are used the way they were intended, which is as a mechanism to help reunite property owners with their lost or abandoned property, then I think they’re a good thing,” says Atlanta lawyer John Coalson who specializes in Georgia unclaimed money. “When they’re used as a means for states to simply raise money, then I think states ought to call a tax ‘a tax’ and not just take people’s property.”
Whichever way the State uses citizens’ unclaimed property, there’s no question that more residents should check if they are owed part of the $900 million GA unclaimed money pie.
Atlanta resident and grade school teacher Sheila Sellers found out she had lost money in her name. She got a letter from the GA Department of Revenue informing her of a substantial amount of cash- $1700 from old stocks and a forgotten bank account from out of state. “Right in time for Christmas. I plan on being out the day after Thanksgiving,” said Sellers in a WGCL News report.
Other residents may want to check themselves too. Almost a billion dollars unclaimed money means good odds of coming up with something. All they have to do is go online to do a search for unclaimed money.