Men and women who serve in the U.S. military often experience routine relocations. Military families frequently move across the country and around the globe, from one base or installation to another, throughout the course of the service member’s military career. Through all the hustle and bustle of these long distance moves, it is astonishingly common that valuable items and money get left behind in bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, and as utility or security deposits.
Recently, after cross referencing files through their databases, the California Department of Veterans Affairs (CalVet) has affirmed that the State of California is currently in possession of over $36 million in unclaimed property that CalVet has confirmed belongs to more than 95,000 Veterans.
Unclaimed property includes cash or assets abandoned in bank accounts, terminated insurance policies, forgotten utility deposits, stocks and bonds, and precious valuables or collector’s items found abandoned in safe deposit boxes.
In 1959, California passed its Unclaimed Property Law in order to protect consumers by prohibiting businesses from retaining unclaimed property. Under the law, businesses, including banks, cannot use the unclaimed property as income, lose it through mergers or bankruptcies, or draw the unclaimed property down through fees and charges. When a business loses contact with the unclaimed property’s owner for three years, the businesses are required to turn over the abandoned or unclaimed property to the state of California until the owner or heir can be found, and the property can be claimed.
On May 22, 2014, California State Controller John Chiang and CalVet Secretary Peter J. Gravett announced the findings that resulted from their partnership.
The CalVet/State Controller’s office partnership found approximately 95,305 Veterans who may have unclaimed property at the Controller’s Office, waiting to be claimed. According to the data, the Veterans have more than $36.3 million in unclaimed property, with an average value of approximately $300 per claim.
Gravett said that CalVet will be sending letters over the next several months directly to Veterans, notifying them of the unclaimed property program. The notices will include instructions as to how Veterans can claim their property.
Veterans should also be made aware of the new eClaim feature in the Unclaimed Property program, which allows unclaimed property owners to claim single-owner accounts, worth up to $500, online. More than 18 million accounts are eligible to be claimed through eClaim, and property owners can expect to receive payments within 14 days.
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Military Connection: CA Vets Lost Property: By Debbie Gregory