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October 2008

It’s Your Money

Texas has $1.8 billion in unclaimed property, and some could be yours.

by Tracey Lamphere

When Texas resident Jim Triplett discovered that forgotten insurance dividends from his father’s 56-year-old policy had been sent to the state’s unclaimed property, he contacted the Comptroller’s office to reclaim it. Triplett then began the process of recovering about $1,800 that had accumulated since his father’s death in 2000.

This is just one example of how the Comptroller’s Unclaimed Property Program reunites people with forgotten property and cash.

The Dollars Add Up

Since 1961, state law has required the agency to hold abandoned and unclaimed property reported by businesses and financial institutions until the owners or their legal heirs claim it. Unclaimed property can take many forms, including utility deposits, payroll checks, dividends, stocks, safe deposit box contents and trust funds. In fiscal 2008, the agency returned $120 million to its owners.

“On a national basis, I have heard statistics that indicate as many as one out of eight individuals has unclaimed property,” says George Tamayo of the Comptroller’s office. “So when you think that you couldn’t possibly have unclaimed property just remember this statistic, and don’t be surprised if a quick check of our unclaimed property database pays dividends for you or one of your family members.”

There is no time limit to claim property, which can range from less than $1 to more than $1 million.

Making Your Claim

The Unclaimed Property Division uses various reminders to encourage people to identify and claim their property. These include an annual newspaper insert listing potential owners, letters, phone calls and a booth at the Texas State Fair. This year’s insert appeared on Oct. 19 in more than 30 papers statewide and listed more than 130,000 people with unclaimed property of $250 or more.

Texans can also search for property and file a claim at anytime online. At, users can enter a name or business and city of residence to see if they, or someone they know, have unclaimed property. If the name and address match a former or present address, potential claimants simply select the claim type and download the appropriate forms. Depending on the dollar amount, claims can be approved in as little as 24 hours. It’s never been easier for Texans to search for and claim their property. FN

Texas Unclaimed Property at a Glance

Current unclaimed property holdings total nearly $2 billion and include:

  • 229,819 claims worth $1,000 or more
  • 12,019 worth $10,000 or more
  • 3,262 worth $25,000 or more
  • 366 worth $100,000 or more

In the past five years, the Comptroller’s office has paid out the following claims:

  • 63,752 claims for $1,000 or more
  • 6,844 for $10,000 or more
  • 2,531 for $25,000 or more
  • 399 for $100,000 or more
  • Seven for $1,000,000 or more

Source: Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

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