Our financial lives can be complicated. Between monthly bills, medical costs, bank accounts, credit and debit cards, investment accounts, and taxes, for better or worse each of us accumulates hundreds of financial relationships over the course of our lives. The growing relevance of online payments only adds to the complexity. Who knows the balance of their PayPal (or Venmo) account?
Losing Track of Your Assets?
It can be too much to keep track of and unfortunately millions of people every year lose track of money that belongs to them. Our increasing mobility intensifies the problem: moving from one house to another, or worse from one state to another, greatly increases the odds of losing track of your assets. Many people forget where their retirement assets are as they move from job to job over the course of their careers, or have difficulty tracking down their prior employer due to mergers, acquisitions or bankruptcy. In the online world, changing your email address can inadvertently cause you to stop receiving account notifications or eventually lose access to financial web sites. It's easy enough to address or prevent any individual issue, but even the most organized person will have trouble keeping track of everything.
Granted, most of us are well incentivized to keep track of our most important assets, so it is typically smaller amounts that fall by the wayside. But in the case of retirement accounts, insurance settlements, or that forgotten savings bond your grandmother bought for you when you were born, the amounts can be material.
How to Help Recover your Missing Assets
This article, 10 Sources of Unclaimed Money, has some excellent resources for finding lost money that may belong to you or your family members. One highlighted resource is the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits. This service acts as a clearinghouse for employees, employers, and plan administrators to reconnect participants with their unclaimed retirement assets.
Of course, the best advice we can give is to keep current with your retirement assets by rolling them over into your current employer's plan or into an individual retirement account. There are pros and cons of each of these options, but regularly consolidating your various retirement accounts will be a big help to you (and your beneficiaries) in the long run. We're willing to bet that you haven't updated your beneficiary designations at your old employer's plan! We are happy to help you with this process of consolidating older retirement accounts, so please reach out to us for help
On a smaller scale (probably), another interesting place to look for unclaimed assets is MissingMoney.com. Most unclaimed assets are held by individual states, and this site connects you to each state's unclaimed property search tool and also allows you to do a nationwide search. The search just requires a last name, but if you provide a first name and state of residence, you can narrow the results.
Let us know if you find anything worthwhile—we’d be interested to hear your treasure hunt stories. And if we can help consolidate any straggler investment accounts, contact us. Your portfolio, and possibly your retirement, will thank you.