You or your family may be entitled to unclaimed property! …. Scam or hidden treasure?

About fifteen years ago an elderly client asked me about a letter she received offering to connect her with the unclaimed (lost) property of a close relative who had died.  I easily found the searchable databases online and told the client that she did not have to pay a fee to find unclaimed property.

I was curious about these databases, so I typed my grandfather’s name and social security number into the database in the state where he lived and died.  To my surprise, there were substantial (5 figures!) unclaimed assets—mostly stocks the family had no record of.  My father, who was my grandfather’s executor, had to re-open my grandfather’s probate estate so that my father had the proper authority to claim the lost funds, but the process was quite easy and he was able to recover all of the unclaimed assets.

Every state keeps an easily searchable database of unclaimed property.  The State of Georgia explains, “Unclaimed property refers to accounts held by financial institutions and other businesses who have lost contact with their owner of record. Unclaimed property includes, but is not limited to: wages, savings accounts, customer refunds, accounts payable, insurance payments, shares of stock, escrow funds, royalties and contents from safe deposit boxes. Most property is reported to the program after five years of inactivity.” Georgia’s website is:

The databases maintained by all states are free to search. Spread the word and stop scammers from trying to benefit from the fact that most people aren’t aware of this free/potentially lucrative service.