Why do People Abandon Money?

Death is probably the most common reason money and other assets are abandoned. If someone dies without a will or without including everything in their will, that asset may be abandoned and go unclaimed. Other reasons include changes in marital status, job, location, name or retirement.

Also, people simply forget. It’s hard for most people to believe, but this is another reason why there is hundreds of millions of dollars of unclaimed money and assets. For example, people buy traveler’s cheques for a trip, do not use them, put them aside and forget them. Or people buy stock, move, and fail to send their new address to the transfer agent. Often people establish trust funds for their children and fail or forget to notify the children. These may all eventually become abandoned assets.

People frequently move and fail to fill out a change-of-address card for the Post Office or if a card is filled out, the old address information is kept on file for a limited amount of time. Correspondence will not be forwarded to the new address after that limited time is up.

People also fail to notify banks, credit unions, financial organizations, insurance companies, pension plans, etc., of their change of address. The result is obvious. If the person cannot be located, any money they have due becomes unclaimed.

Another reason money is abandoned is people rely on others to do things for them. When a family moves, the husband might assume that the wife will take care of notifying everyone of their change of address, and the wife thought she should inform only the bank and utilities. (Or vice versa) When an elderly parent moves in with an adult child, they may both assume the other notified everyone.

Most people are unaware that an account of theirs has become unclaimed. Some people believe that they can leave money in a bank indefinitely. For example, you go to withdraw money from a savings account that you have not touched in years. You discover that you no longer have a savings account and the cash you thought was earning interest over the years is now unclaimed. Now, imagine the same scenario happening to a loved one who experienced memory loss for whatever reason and has forgotten about the account entirely. As you can see, it doesn’t take much for the right sequence of events to happen for money to go unclaimed.

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