Person at desk researching US unclaimed property and which state is the leader.

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US Unclaimed Property: Which State Is the Leader?

It is very common for unclaimed property to be left behind, and certain states are known for having more unclaimed property than others. Learn the facts here.

Patrick Hicks

Patrick Hicks, @PatrickHicks

Head of Legal, Trust & Will

The collective value of US unclaimed property being held by individual state governments is upwards of $70 billion, according to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA). The personal property currently in possession of the states is estimated to belong to about 33 million people — or one in seven Americans. If you do the math, the average person with property being held by the state is owed more than $2,000. Perhaps even more importantly, state governments are more than happy to return the property to its rightful owners; that is, if they can find it.

For better or for worse, there’s a one in seven chance that the state you live in is holding your unclaimed inheritance. If you believe you have property being held by the state, or are genuinely curious about what will happen to your unclaimed inheritance, you need to know where to look. This article will guide readers to the places where they are most likely to find US unclaimed property, including:

What State has the Most Unclaimed Property?

According to the last NAUPA survey in 2020, the state with the most unclaimed property is New York. At the time, New York had upwards of $17 billion in unclaimed property, 67% more than second-place California. 

It is widely believed that New York has the most unclaimed funds because of its global financial position. If for nothing else, New York is generally viewed as the finance capital of the world. While not an official title, New York is home to some of the financial industry’s largest institutions: Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch (to name a few) are headquartered in New York City and have a massive amount of assets in their possession. That, combined with New York’s population eclipsing 20 million people, is the primary reason The Empire State has the most unclaimed property.    

Escheatment by State: Top 10 States with the Most Unclaimed Property

Every state in the country is currently sitting on at least billions of dollars in unclaimed property. Most of the capital consists of 401(k) accounts, unpaid wages, insurance payouts, abandoned savings accounts, trust distributions, royalty payments, and countless other types of valuable assets. The top 10 states with the most of these assets are:

  1. New York: $17 billion

  2. California: $10.2 billion

  3. Texas: $7 billion

  4. New Jersey: $4 billion

  5. Illinois: $3.5 billion

  6. Pennsylvania: $3.5 billion

  7. Ohio: $3 billion

  8. Massachusetts: $2 billion

  9. Maryland: $2 billion

  10. Florida: $2 billion

Other US Unclaimed Property Statistics

While not a direct correlation, there appears to be a connection between a state’s population and the value of the unclaimed property on its books. For example, seven of the ten states with the most unclaimed property are also on the list of the top 10 states with the largest populations — the only exceptions are Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey. 

It is worth noting, however, that even though California has nearly double the population of New York, it holds about $6.8 billion less in assets. While California may have less unclaimed property, it is likely expected to be distributing it to more people; that means more Californians may be looking for payouts than in any other state. If you believe you are one of them, make sure you know how to recover escheated funds in California.

Does Your State Have a High Amount of Unclaimed Property? Update Your Estate Plan Today

There isn’t a single state in the United State of America that isn’t holding billions of dollars in unclaimed funds. In total, an estimated $70 billion is owed to about 33 million people. The chances of you being one of those people are about 14%. To be sure, check with your state comptroller or treasury department; you may find some US unclaimed property with your name on it.

Here at Trust & Will, we’re here to help keep things simple. You can create a fully customizable, state-specific estate plan from the comfort of your own home in just 20 minutes. Take our free quiz to see where you should get started, or compare our other estate planning and settlement options today! 

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