What Is The Law On Unclaimed Property?


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An unclaimed asset generally becomes 'abandoned' in the eyes of the law when the owner or heir fails to communicate an interest in it over a period of years, known as the dormancy period.  In America, the government uses a legal process called 'escheat' to take custody of billions of dollars annually in unclaimed property and lost money.  However in most cases unclaimed money can still be claimed back indefinitely.      In the U.K there is also thought to be many billions of pounds of unclaimed assets, from dormant bank accounts to unrealised National Lottery tickets.  In November 2005, The Commission on Unclaimed Assets was set up in the U.K.  They have proposed a 'social investment bank' that will use unclaimed assets - currently lying in dormant bank accounts - to generate sustained investment in disadvantaged communities.  However the Commission states that account holders should always have the right to reclaim their assets at any point in the future.    

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