The state of California's unclaimed funds program takes in roughly $ 300 million annually. What's it to you? Well, if you or someone you know is or was a former resident of the Golden State (or had any kind of business dealings, whether you knew it or not), some of that big pile of California missing money could very well be yours!
Under the state of California unclaimed property (or escheat) law, abandoned assets such as forgotten bank and checking accounts, cash and stock dividends, mineral deposits, uncashed checks and money orders, state of California unclaimed tax refunds, salary checks, gift certificates, and other financial assets are handed over to the Treasury Department if their owners don't come for them within a given period. This 'dormancy period' varies from state to state, but in California it is 3 years. These lost assets then go to the California unclaimed property division where they stay in the state's general fund until returned to their rightful owners. This is where state officials in-charge of the California unclaimed cash were criticized recently. Seems that they were eager to locate and collect the lost funds from the various establishments holding them but showed less interest in contacting the owners in the California unclaimed money list.
One of the main reasons for the inability of government to return forgotten cash to its owners is that they can't be located. Problem is, who would think people like ZsaZsa Gabor, Angelina Jolie, Victoria Beckham, Gerri Halliwell, Bradd Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Jennifer Lopez, Adam Sandler and Marlon Brando would be difficult to find? Their names and the names of several other celebrities' are some of the names in the California missing money list and yet they haven't heard from the officials in the California Unclaimed Funds Division. They are all owed checks for unclaimed money by California amounting from hundreds to the thousands in Ms. Jolie's case. This just showed California state officials' interest in keeping this cash in the general fund for them to balance the budget deficits for as long as they can. In fact, there was a recent ruling by a federal judge on CA abandoned money, saying that the state wasn't doing enough to return it to its rightful owners and for a while halted the state's s ability to seize it until a proper method of reuniting it with the rightful owners was adopted.
The total dollar amount for these funds in California averages $ 5 billion annually- imagine how much interest that generates for the state! Sacramento Attorney Bill Palmer, who has represented numerous cases involving California unclaimed money, said the state's program was supposed to be a lost and found of sorts for Californians. Instead, it was turned into a profit generating 'business' in the past few years.
The ban on the seizure of property by California has since been lifted and the new California State Controller, John Chiang, is making extra efforts in the form of sweeping reforms- improving how his office is handling California unclaimed money . There is still a dire need though for residents of California and the other 49 states across the US to be informed about the presence of these monies and on how to do a thorough search for them.