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Does The State Of Michigan Have Your Unclaimed Property?

You may not realize it, but the Michigan Department of Treasury may be holding unclaimed money that belongs to you. Over the years, there may have been uncashed checks, dormant bank accounts or safe deposit box contents held by businesses that you had forgotten about. After a certain period of time, these businesses are required by statute to turn over this unclaimed property to the custody of the State of Michigan until those assets can be rightfully claimed by their owners. If you don't check it out, you might literally be leaving money on the table.

The following property is "presumed abandoned" and subject to Michigan's Uniform Unclaimed Property Act:

  • "[A]ll property, including any income or increment derived from the property, less any lawful charges, that is held, issued, or owing in the ordinary course of a holder's business and remains unclaimed by the owner for more than 3 years after it becomes payable or distributable..." MCL 567.223(1).
  • "[A]ny sum payable on a traveler's check that is outstanding for more than 15 years after its issuance... unless the owner, within 15 years, has communicated in writing with the issuer concerning it or otherwise indicated an interest as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file prepared by an employee of the issuer." MCL 567.225(1).
  • "[A]ny sum payable on a money order or similar written instrument, other than a third party bank check, that is outstanding for more than 3 years after its issuance... unless the owner, within 3 years, has communicated in writing with the issuer concerning it or otherwise indicated an interest as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file prepared by an employee of the issuer." MCL 567.225(2).
  • "Any sum payable on a check, draft, or similar instrument.... on which a banking or financial organization is directly liable, including a cashier's check and a certified check, which is outstanding for more than 3 years after it was payable or after its issuance if payable on demand...., unless the owner, within 3 years, has communicated in writing with the banking or financial organization concerning it or otherwise indicated an interest as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file prepared by an employee of the banking or financial organization." MCL 567.226(1).
  • "Any demand, savings, or matured time deposit with a banking or financial organization, including a deposit that is automatically renewable, and any funds paid toward the purchase of a share, a mutual investment certificate, or any other interest in a banking or financial organization... unless the owner, within 3 years," has increased or decreased its value, communicated in writing to the institution concerning the property or "[o]therwise indicated an interest in the property as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file prepared by an employee of the banking or financial organization." MCL 567.227(1).
  • "Funds held or owing under any life or endowment insurance policy or annuity contract that has matured or terminated... if unclaimed for more than 3 years after the funds became due and payable as established from the records of the insurance company holding or owing the funds." MCL 567.228(1). In some circumstances, this can be reduced to 2 years if the life or endowment insurance policy has not matured by actual proof of the death of the insured, the limiting age on the mortality table is reached and no interest person has made contact or paid premiums on the policy within the past 2 years. MCL 567.228(3)(b).
  • "Funds held by a provider under the prepaid funeral contract funding act... that remain unclaimed for a period of 3 years after the death of the contract beneficiary or, if no contract beneficiary has been designated under the prepaid funeral contract, 3 years after the death of the owner of the prepaid funeral contract...". MCL 567.228a(1).
  • "A deposit, including any interest on the deposit, made by a subscriber with a utility to secure payment or any sum paid in advance for utility services to be furnished, less any lawful deductions, that remains unclaimed by the owner for more than 1 year after termination of the services for which the deposit or advance payment was made...". MCL 567.229.
  • "[A]ny sum that a business association has been ordered to refund by a court or administrative agency that remains unclaimed by the owner for more than 1 year after it became payable in accordance with the final determination or order providing for the refund, whether or not the final determination or order requires any person entitled to a refund to make a claim for the refund...". MCL 567.230.
  • Any stock, share, or other intangible ownership interest in a business association "owned by a person who for more than 3 years has not claimed a dividend, distribution, or other sum payable as a result of the interest, or who has not communicated with the association regarding the interest or a dividend, distribution, or other sum payable as the result of the interest, as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file with the association prepared by an employee of the association." MCL 567.231a(1)(a).
  • "Property distributable in the course of a dissolution of a business association that remains unclaimed by the owner for more than 1 year after the date specified for final distribution..." MCL 567.232.
  • "Property and any income or increment derived therefrom held in a fiduciary capacity for the benefit of another person... unless the owner, within 3 years after it has become payable or distributable, has increased or decreased the principal, accepted payment of principal or income, communicated concerning the property, or otherwise indicated an interest as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file prepared by the fiduciary." MCL 567.233.
  • "Property held for the owner by a court, state, or other government, governmental subdivision or agency, public corporation, or public authority that remains unclaimed by the owner for more than 1 year after becoming payable or distributable..." MCL 567.234.
  • "[A] gift certificate, gift card, or credit memo" IF EITHER "[t]he certificate, card, or memo is not claimed or used for a period of 3 years after becoming payable or distributable" OR "[t]he certificate, card, or memo was used or claimed 1 or more times without exhausting its full value, but subsequently was not claimed or used for an uninterrupted period of 3 years." MCL 567.235(1).
  • "Unpaid wages greater than $50.00, including wages represented by unpresented payroll checks greater than $50.00, owing in the ordinary course of the holder's business that remain unclaimed by the owner for more than 1 year after becoming payable..." MCL 567.236.
  • "All property held in a safe deposit box or any other safekeeping repository in this state in the ordinary course of the holder's business and proceeds resulting from the sale of the property permitted by law, that remain unclaimed by the owner for more than 3 years after the lease or rental period on the box or other repository has expired..." MCL 567.237.

Once the property is presumed abandoned and the statutory time period has expired, the entity in possession of the property must turn it over to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

Anyone can go to https://unclaimedproperty.michigan.gov/ to search the database and look for unclaimed property in their name, file a claim for property and check the claim status periodically. You might be surprised what you might find there. For example, if you switched auto insurance companies and the original company issued a refund check for the balance of the premium paid that was never cashed, it may be located on the database. The Department of Treasury maintains a user-friendly site with simple instructions on how to acquire your unclaimed property if you provide the State of Michigan with the proper credentials.

Beware of companies who send solicitations offering to "locate" unclaimed property for a percentage of the fee. These predatory businesses utilize the exact same online database at the Michigan Department of Treasury that is already accessible to anyone with an internet connection. Do not pay even a dollar to these scam artists if you have a computer at your fingertips to find your own unclaimed property within minutes.

If you have questions about Michigan's Uniform Unclaimed Property Act, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC for assistance today.

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