Make Contact! Keep Your Property From Being Turned Over to the State.
Every year millions of dollars of property – including shares of stock and uncashed dividends – are turned over to states unnecessarily, as part of a requirement to comply with the states’ unclaimed property laws (also known as “escheatment”). It can be an unfortunate surprise for a shareholder, but you can keep this from happening just by logging into the Investor Centre™ website.
Escheatment is the act of reporting and transferring property to a state when the rightful owner has an invalid address or has not made contact or initiated a transaction during the state’s designated dormancy period. Escheated assets are transferred to the state for safekeeping (and often liquidated) until the rightful owner makes a claim on the asset.
To keep your shares of stock and uncashed dividends from being escheated, you must maintain contact (recommended at least once a year) with the company’s transfer agent, especially if you recently changed your address, changed your marital status or are managing an estate following a death. Unclaimed property laws vary widely from state to state, but here are some helpful tips that will minimize your escheatment risk:
- Promptly cash all dividend checks.
- Access your account regularly to check your balance or update your contact information.
- Respond to requests for confirmation of your address and stockholder proxies.
- Prepare a checklist of all accounts to be notified when you change your address.
- Notify any businesses and financial institutions if your situation changes due to marriage, divorce or other legal action. Contact your bank, broker, transfer agent, employer, credit card issuer, insurance company and others with your new information.
- Prepare and file a will detailing the disposition of your assets.
For holdings managed by Computershare you can simply log in to your Investor Centre account to maintain contact for all the securities in your portfolio for that account, and to keep your shares from being escheated.
Even if you believe that you have maintained proper contact with the companies that you hold assets with, we recommend you visit www.missingmoney.com, a website officially endorsed by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) containing the official collective records from most state unclaimed property programs. You can also search directly at NAUPA’s website at www.unclaimed.org. Both sites are free.