Tennessee has some unclaimed money it wants to return to rightful owners -- $725 million worth

NASHVILLE -- Tennessee Treasury Department officials, who last fiscal year returned $40 million in unclaimed property to rightful owners, is now trying to do the same for yet more property that residents haven't claimed.

About $725 million worth of property. The list includes years, sometimes decades, worth of unclaimed stocks, bonds, gift certificates, checks, unclaimed wages, refunds from utilties or other businesses, life insurance insurance annuities more.

Treasurer David Lillard said today the $40 million returned in Fiscal Year 2015 represented a 53 percent increase over the previous year. And officials are pushing to do more.

The unclaimed property is money that's been turned over to the state by businesses and organizations that can't locate the rightful owners. Each year, millions of dollars flow to the state. None of the items in the Unclaimed Property Division include land or physical items.

Officials say Tennessee has no time limit to seek the unclaimed property. It is held for the rightful owner or their legal beneficiaries until claimed. Treasury's Unclaimed Property Division works to track down owners.

But the state also tries to make it easier for citizens to search for missing funds. They're attributing last year's increase in claims to the state's Unclaimed Properties website -- ClaimItTN.gov.

The searchable online database contains all unclaimed property in Tennessee dating to the inception of the program. Users of www.ClaimItTN.gov can search their names and, if they find something owed to them, file the claims online. Treasury recommends searching for common misspellings of names and addresses too.

Because Unclaimed Property Division employees must verify the property is going to the correct person, claims can take 8 to 10 weeks to process. The division expedites claims filed through ClaimItTN.gov.

Those without internet access can call the Unclaimed Property Division at 615-741-6499 and officials will start the claims process for them and mail a form. Appropriate documentation requested on the claims form will need to be mailed to the Unclaimed Property Division in Nashville.

The service is free of charge. And the state emphasizes they won't ask someone to pay any fee to claim money owed. If someone does ask you to make a payment to claim property, officials say you're dealing with a company not affiliated with the Tennessee Treasury Department.