Here's a figure that just might take your breath away: $42 billion. That's the approximate combined value of unclaimed assets in the U.S., according to the most recent figures available from the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators. For that amount, you could afford to send nearly 144,500 students to Harvard University – perhaps the most prestigious college in the world – for a full year. Or, you could buy more than 5,300 Bugatti hypercars, which go for a cool $5.8 million apiece. So where does all of that go?
"States and organizations help with tracking down missing property."
Banks and credit unions are duty bound
According to the SEC, financial institutions must report when personal property has been abandoned or unclaimed after a period of time specified by state law – often five years – and then pursue a recommended course of action. While primarily initiated by the death of an account holder, this process, called escheatment, can sometimes be simply a result of poor communication or forgetfulness. No matter, banks and credit unions are bound to do all they can – exhibiting a "diligent effort," to quote the Securities and Exchange Commission – to track down the rightful owners or beneficiaries when a lock box or account remains untouched beyond the designated period of time. While online tools have certainly made this easier, it's not exactly hassle-free – like locating a needle in a proverbial haystack. If unsuccessful, states assume ownership of the property. And in the case of safe deposit boxes, this compels institutions to find a way around missing keys.
What can consumers do?
National organizations like the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators make it easier for family members to track down missing property, thanks in large measure to online connectivity. State governments are doing the same thing. Indeed, the Michigan Department of Treasury recently launched a portal for this very purpose, as reported by local Fox affiliate WXYZ.
Other governing bodies use more aggressive tactics to ensure these financial "reunions." Just last year, the Lauderdale Board of Supervisors returned more than $419,700 in previously unclaimed assets to their rightful owners, The Meridian Star reported. Meanwhile in the Show Me State, local financial institutions are working in partnership with officials to live up to Missouri's nickname. State Treasurer Scott Fitzpatrick maintains a website that residents can use to run a search. All residents have to do is enter their name and follow the step-by-step instructions to file a claim if there's a match.
Of course, if those lockboxes remain locked, banks and credit unions still have an issue…
Count on BranchServ
That's where BranchServ can be of assistance. No matter the age, brand, condition or intricacy of your FI's safe deposit boxes, BranchServ Escheatment Solutions can pop them open with minimal effort and maximum convenience. In fact, we can design a complete escheatment program for optimal efficiencies, while ensuring your compliance.
As you well know, there's a mandated protocol to escheatment services that hinges on state regulations. Therefore, what's standard operating procedure in one state may be an entirely different story in another, even in states that border one another. BranchServ currently addresses escheatment needs at branch locations in 22 states spanning the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Southeast and Gulf Coast, including Louisiana, Florida, Texas and Washington, D.C. Our reach is ever expanding. As a result, we are well-versed in all state regulations and will develop a system that aligns with the rules and guidelines of your area including all notarizations.
No matter what it takes, you can trust that BranchServ Escheatment Solutions will see the process through to completion. Our North Carolina facility supports a national key management program and locksmith services and houses its own lock shop. This ensures that all escheatment needs – in addition to any other lock and key customer needs – are met.
For more information on these and other services in which we specialize, please contact us today.