Texans get chance to claim property

Every year, the Texas Comptroller updates a list of names of people, business, and other entities for whom unclaimed property is being held by the state. Unclaimed property can be any financial asset that appears to have been abandoned by the owner for three years or more. Unclaimed property includes items such as un-cashed dividends, payroll checks, cashier's checks, stocks, mutual fund accounts, bonds, utility deposits and other refunds, bank accounts and safe deposit box contents.

The unclaimed property law, originally passed in 1961, requires financial institutions, businesses and government entities to report to the state personal property they are holding that is considered abandoned or unclaimed. The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts is responsible for administering the Texas Unclaimed Property Program. Property is turned over to the Comptroller's office annually when the owner's whereabouts are unknown and the property has been inactive on the books of the reporting company between one and five years. The state acts only as custodian for the missing owners, holding the property in trust until it is claimed. Texas never takes legal ownership of the property, so there is no time limit for filing a claim.

One in four Texans are believed to have money or other property they could claim from the $2.6 billion the state is holding in their names. In 2011, the state returned more than $165 million to its owners. The average claim paid out to individuals is about $1,000.

More information, as well as a database of unclaimed property owners, can be found online at www.ClaimItTexas.org . You can search for unclaimed property and file a claim to have funds returned through the website or by calling the comptroller's office at 800-654-3463.

-From the Office of State Representative Larry Phillips