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
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:
Unclaimed property does not include real estate, vehicles, and most
other physical property.
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 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 2013, the Department’s Unclaimed Property Section received
property worth more than $138 million. The amount continues to grow each year. All funds are
received and administered through the Department's Unclaimed Property Program.
Legislation effective December 20, 2011, directs the department to sell securities
upon receipt as soon as practicable. If you submit a claim for securities and the
Department has not ordered those securities sold, you may elect to have the
securities returned or receive the net proceeds of the sale. If the Department has
ordered the sale of a security, owners may only claim the net proceeds as of the
date of sale.