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About Unclaimed Property
Unclaimed property refers to property being held by an organization that has not had contact with the owner for an extended period of time. Property is usually considered unclaimed after three years, when it is turned over to the state of Washington. Banks, retailers, credit unions, utilities, corporations, insurance companies, and governmental entities are some of the many sources of unclaimed property.
The Department of Revenue is the custodian for unclaimed property, and it administers an unclaimed property program to seek the rightful owners.
Typical unclaimed property includes:
Stocks, bonds and mutual funds
Safe deposit box contents
Utility and phone company deposits
Uncashed checks, such as payroll, insurance payments, or travelers checks
Unclaimed property does
include real estate, vehicles, and most other physical property.
Unclaimed Property Law
State law protects unclaimed property until it can be returned. There is no time limit for filing a claim and rightful owners or their heirs can claim property reported since 1955. The state may auction the content of safe deposit boxes, however, if not claimed within five years.
The State’s Role
The Department of Revenue administers an unclaimed property program as a free public service. More than $1 billion in unclaimed property has been turned over to the Department of Revenue since 1955. In fiscal year 2011, the Department’s Unclaimed Property Section received property worth more than $100 million. The amount continues to grow each year. All funds are received and administered through the Department's Unclaimed Property Program.
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