Unclaimed money totals in California are approximately $8 billion, with cash making up about 90% of the missing funds, according to a CBS Local article on March 20, 2017.  Some of this unclaimed property may rightfully belong to you if you or a family member has ever lived in the state of California.


According to the California State Controller’s website, unclaimed money is generally defined as any financial asset that has been left inactive by the owner for a period of time specified in the law, generally three (3) years. The California Unclaimed Property Law does NOT include real estate. Unused gift certificates are also generally excluded from unclaimed property and are not sent to the State as unclaimed property. The most common types of Unclaimed Property are:

  • Bank accounts and safe deposit box contents
  • Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends
  • Uncashed cashier’s checks and money orders
  • Certificates of deposit
  • Matured or terminated insurance policies
  • Estates
  • Mineral interests and royalty payments
  • Trust funds and escrow accounts

California’s Unclaimed Property Law requires corporations, businesses, associations, financial institutions, and insurance companies (referred to as “Holders”) to annually report and deliver property to the State Controller’s Office after there has been no activity on the account or contact with the owner for a period of time specified in the law—generally three (3) years. Often, contact is lost when the owner forgets that the account exists, or moves and does not leave a forwarding address, or the forwarding order expires. In some cases, the owner dies and the heirs have no knowledge of the property.

California has periodic auctions to distribute tangible property such as items found in a safe deposit box. California’s State Controllers office provides unique service that sends out notices warning individuals when funds are about to become unclaimed, and when properties have been sent to the state. The names of unclaimed property owners appear periodically in state newspapers. California has no time limit for an owner or heirs to claim their property. A Locator Unit division aggressively seeks to identify owners of unclaimed property. Their web site offers a searchable database, which is updated frequently.

According to CBS, California recently added a Life Insurance Settlement Search page. It is intended to help beneficiaries with unclaimed money death benefits they may not have known about. State Controller Betty Yee says her office has reached agreements with 28 insurance companies that require they turn over funds.

Office of State Controller Betty Yee
Unclaimed Property Division

P.O. Box 942850

Sacramento, California 94250-5873

Phone/Fax:

Unclaimed Property Call Center (800) 992-4647 (Nationwide)

(916) 323-2827 Outside of U.S

Website: http://www.sco.ca.gov/upd_msg.html