I’ve written about unclaimed money and how to find out if there’s any being held in your name, always assuming the amounts were relatively small, such as unreturnable utility deposits, insurance refunds, etc. Well, I got a shock in the mail recently when I received a letter from a credit union where I have a savings account. The following excerpt tells all:
“We need your help! Our records indicate that your account containing a balance of $…has not had activity in the past two years or more. According to the California Code of Civil Procedure, California Unclaimed Property law requires banks, banking organizations, and financial organizations to transfer funds of a deposit, account, shares, or other interest if it has been inactive for three years. Unless you declare an intention to maintain your account, we will have no choice but to close and remit your account to the State Controller as unclaimed property as of June 30, 2015.”
I entrusted my money to this institution for safe keeping. If I hadn’t wanted to save it, I wouldn’t have put it in an account in a city 75 miles away. I wanted it safe and somewhat out of reach and was willing to forgo earning much interest just so I could forget about it. And now I’m in danger of having it sent to the State Controller? And it could get worse…
The letter goes on to explain that “Once an account is remitted, the member must file a claim with the state to request reimbursement of their funds.” Although I know people who have successfully gotten their unclaimed money from the state, I also know one gentleman who had four different claims (less than $200 total) who was unable to get the state to send his money to him despite repeated tries. He filled out the forms and submitted the required documentation to no avail. If the state won’t cut loose of his little amount, how much tighter would the powers that be hold on to many times that much?
So…What To Do?
Firstly, this is a dramatic reminder to always read your mail – every piece! It’s a wonder I didn’t throw the letter away since it looked like junk mail rather than something important. Secondly, I realize that the credit union is required by law to turn over the money if it is unclaimed, but… I haven’t NOT claimed it! I’m merely trying to save it. Isn’t that what savings accounts are for?
The good news is that the fix is relatively easy and painless – just fill out and return the form at the bottom of the letter declaring my intention to maintain my account or make an account transaction. I think I’ll opt for the latter and make a single transaction – like a withdrawal equal to the balance in the account. I obviously need to move that money elsewhere so I can access it more often to prove my account-maintenance intentions.
Crystal Marie lives by the philosophy that needing less rather than earning more is the key to happiness and financial serenity, which allowed her to “retire” from formal employment in health education at the age of 44. She can be found making the most of the second half on her blog, The Best 50 Years.