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FAQs

General Information

Q. How much unclaimed property does the state have?

  • The state's Unclaimed Property Section is holding over $300 million in unclaimed property belonging to one million citizens.
  • Chances are one in seven of finding unclaimed property if you have lived in the state of Washington.

Q. When did the program start? How far back do your records go?

  • The Unclaimed Property Law was first enacted in 1955.
  • The purpose of the act is to provide a central repository in each state where citizens can seek any lost property that belongs to them.
  • We maintain a comprehensive list of all property received since 1955.
  • The Internet database is limited to property received since 1983 when we converted to our current database. You can call our toll-free number if you want information about records prior to 1983.

Q. Who reports unclaimed property?

  • All organizations, except the federal government, should report unclaimed property to the Washington State Department of Revenue.
  • The law covers securities, cash or property representing cash such as bank accounts, credits, gift certificates, and payroll checks.
  • The only tangible property covered is safe deposit box contents.
  • While all the information can be obtained via the Internet, if you would like to have report forms or a copy of the Unclaimed Property Law, you can call the Department with your request. There are several reporting guides designed to help organizations determine what unclaimed property needs to be reported.

Q. Does the state sell the safe deposit box contents?

  • If we are unable to locate the owner, we are required to sell contents within five years of delivery.
  • Items sold at the auctions include jewelry, coins, collectibles, and other unique items.
  • Personal effects and documents are destroyed after a reasonable attempt to locate the owner.
  • Auction proceeds are applied to auction costs. Remaining sale proceeds are posted to the owner's account.
  • The Department conducts Abandoned Safe Deposit Box Auctions every four years.
  • The next auction date will be announced on the Internet under the Auction Information section.

Q. When is property considered abandoned?

  • Generally, property is presumed abandoned up to three years after it was payable to the owner depending on the type of property. Property presumed abandoned is reportable November 1 of each year.

Q. What does the state do with the money?

  • A $750,000 trust fund is maintained and the excess is transferred to the state's General Fund.