What is escheatment?
All states require financial institutions to turn over custody of abandoned assets or accounts after a certain period of time. The amount of time after which each state considers assets abandoned varies.
Why does escheatment happen?
Client accounts with an undeliverable address or no sign of client contact or “affirmative contact” after a state-specified period of time are designated “unclaimed” and, by law, must be turned over to the state – in some cases even if we have a valid address on file.
Where do my assets go?
Unclaimed property assets turned over to the state are held for their rightful owner to claim. Each state holds and uses the assets in accordance with their individual state statutes. If shares in your account have been escheated, once they are in possession of the state they can be liquidated at the discretion of the state and only the proceeds of the sale will be available to claim.
How long do I have before my assets are escheated?
Ameriprise holds unclaimed property according to the laws of each state. The time period or “dormancy period” that we are required to hold the funds is determined by your last known state of residence and the state’s specific rules regarding escheatment. Generally, dormancy periods range from two to five years with most set at three years.
How can I prevent my assets from being escheated?
While Ameriprise makes every effort to locate clients to remove them from the escheatment process, this can easily be avoided by keeping your accounts and personal information current. Most state laws require us to ensure we have affirmative contact with property owners at regular intervals and Ameriprise strives to maintain annual contact with all clients.
If you have not taken action on your account for a certain period of time, the assets may be considered abandoned under state law. Prior to escheating assets to the states, Ameriprise attempts to contact you and it is important that you promptly follow the instructions provided to prevent your assets from being turned over to the state.
To protect your Ameriprise account(s) from being deemed abandoned under state unclaimed property laws and turned over to the state, consider the following easy ways you can establish affirmative contact:
- Advisor: Regular communication with your financial advisor in person, over the phone, or via email
- Online: Logging into your account on ameriprise.com
- Phone: Calling our client service center and being authenticated by the service agent
- Check cashing: Checks written to you that have not been cashed will be considered abandoned and may be turned over to the state. Some states will consider your entire account unclaimed if checks remain uncashed beyond a certain time period.
Where can I get further information regarding the escheatment process?
- Each state’s website describes their unclaimed property laws and processes, including how to claim funds that have been turned over to them. You can find links to the state websites at the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators website (unclaimed.org) by scrolling down to the US map and selecting the appropriate state.
- SEC.gov – using the search feature for “The Escheatment Process”