I-Team Report: Unclaimed property in Michigan


Unexpected money is now heading to Isaac Zimmer's bank account.

"Wasn't really paying attention and just assumed the money was going in there I guess, I dunno,” Zimmer said.

Several years ago, Zimmer assumed his paycheck went into his new bank account. However, unbeknownst to him, his $220 never made it into his account and eventually found its way to the state.

"What I think what happened was when I was working in Midland I was getting my paychecks electronically fund transferred and then when I switched banks that money couldn't get there,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer admits he probably should've watched his money better back in his college days. Had it not been for his aunt noticing his name on Michigan’s unclaimed property website, he still might not know about his money.

"I think we've got over a million properties that's out there to be claimed,” said Terry Stanton, manager of the Unclaimed Property Department.

Stanton said it's something most people don't know. He said chances are you, or someone you know, has unclaimed property sitting in Lansing.

In the last three years, the state paid out more than $270 million in unclaimed money and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of property is still waiting for its rightful owner right now.

"It seems crazy that people could forget about large sums of money, but it happens,” Stanton said.

One person found out they had $2.4 million coming to them.

So, how does this happen?

Unclaimed property can be anything from uncashed checks, dormant bank accounts, shares of stock and insurance police benefits.

"Items we've received over time in safety deposit boxes,” Stanton said.

Stanton has seen boxes containing coins, stamps, gemstones, comic books, silver spoons and even old baseball cards.

"Those can be claimed within three years of when we take them in. We can't hold property under the statute for more than three years. We have to auction it off,” Stanton said.

If the owner comes forward after the items have been auctioned off, they'll get the value made at auction. That’s something Stanton said never expires.

"We get new reports every July and we are loading them from July to September or October. So, we get those new properties in, just because you checked it in May doesn't mean there might not be a property for your name now,” he said.

Stanton said if you find you're on the state's website, like Zimmer, the unclaimed property has a minimum value of at least $50.

Cashing in could be as simple as printing and mailing in the form, but the larger the amount, the lengthier the process may be.

"The money's there, you just gotta go claim it," Stanton said.

Zimmer filed one of 36,000 claims paid out in the last year. It was money he wasn't expecting, but will be put to good use.

"I got a wedding to pay for. Maybe we will invite two or three more people and that's about it,” Zimmer said laughing.

>>Click here to see if you have unclaimed property<<

You can also call the Unclaimed Property Department for assistance at 517-636-5320.

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