For colder climates, the month of March can give those who have experienced months of bitter winter temperatures and decreased sunlight a lot of things to look forward to. The first day of Spring. Daylight Savings Time. Spring Training baseball. Saint Patrick’s Day. NCAA March Madness.
Unfortunately, the changing of the season also gives us the opportunity to perform the annual guilt trip/rite of passage – spring cleaning. Generations ago, prior to the invention of electricity, homes were lit with kerosene and heated with wood or coal. Come Spring, homes had a layer of soot and grime in every room. The arrival of Spring meant warmer temperatures and more sunlight, but it was also the first real opportunity for a thorough housecleaning by opening the windows and doors to let the soot out.
March can also be a good time to do some “financial spring cleaning” by tracking your progress and reevaluating your financial resolutions and goals. Are you keeping on track with your savings goals? Have you reduced expenses? Have you asked your advisor about financial planning?
If you’re looking for a chance to jump start your savings goals for the year, consider something as simple as reclaiming your own property. Every state has unclaimed property programs that actively and continuously find owners of lost and forgotten assets. In 2015, $3.235 billion was returned to the rightful owners by the government unclaimed property agencies.
What is Unclaimed Property?
Unclaimed property refers to accounts in financial institutions and companies that have had no activity generated or contact with the owner for at least one year. Common forms of unclaimed property include:
- Savings or checking accounts
- Uncashed dividends
- Payroll checks
- Traveler’s checks
- Trust distributions
- Unredeemed money order or gift certificates
- Insurance payments or refunds
- Life insurance policy payments
- Annuity payments
- Certificates of deposit
- Customer overpayments
- Utility security deposits
- Mineral royalty payments
- Contents of safe deposit boxes
Every state has unclaimed property statutes that protect funds from reverting back to the financial institution when contact with the rightful owner has been lost. These laws generally instruct the financial institution to turn over the property to the state who will then attempt to contact the rightful owner. A recent Los Angeles Times article mentioned the State of California alone holds more than $8 billion in unclaimed property belonging to about 32.5 million individuals and organizations. That’s roughly $246 per person with a valid claim!
Find Your Unclaimed Property
If you’re ready to claim some of the billions of dollars held by state unclaimed property programs, visit MissingMoney.com to assist you in a free search of all participating states to find your family’s missing, lost, and unclaimed property, money and assets. Keep in mind that not every state reports unclaimed property with Missing Money, so it’s also a good idea to search any state in which you or a deceased family member has lived. For a link to all state databases individually, visit the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA). You can also search your State Treasurer’s website to learn more about the unclaimed property claim process in your state.
While you’re searching, check out NAUPA’s other sources for unclaimed property, including:
- Undeliverable U.S. Federal Tax refund checks
- Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp.
- Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation
- National Credit Union Administration
- U.S. Federal Investments
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Veterans Administration Benefits
- U.S. Railroad Retirement Board
Your Advisor and the Wealth Enhancement Group can also assist you should you have any questions about claiming your unclaimed property. Have a success story? Feel free to let your advisor know if you were successful with your “Financial Spring Cleaning” and reclaimed your portion of the billions in unclaimed property!
Monthly Investment Review: February 2017
Global markets extended their January rally last month with the highlight being the Dow Jones Industrial Average’s impressive 12-day up-streak. This was the first time since 1987 that the index achieved such a feat. Furthermore, the headline benchmark is up over 2,400 points since the November election, producing 31 record high closings over the same period and producing an impressive 16.35% return through the end of February. Enthusiasm over the new president’s business-friendly agenda and confidence in a stronger economy coupled with expectations of higher interest rates is often cited as the impetus of the market’s recent movement. As it stands right now, the market is pricing in an 80% chance that the Federal Reserve hikes rates in the March meeting. The S&P 500 and the NASDAQ Composite were also winners during February with a return of 3.72% and 3.75%, respectively, but the Dow was the clear outperformer, posting a monthly return of 4.77%. Internationally, the Eurozone appears to be expanding as well with manufacturing readings coming in at six-year highs. However, there are a number of elections in the coming months that could determine the fate of the European Union and our Research Team is watching the region closely over the intermediate-term. Regardless how the market reacts to these elections or Trump’s domestic agenda, we continue to stress the importance of a wealth plan that takes into account one’s own unique financial situation and allocates accordingly.
Investment Review Sources:
This newsletter was written and produced by CWM, LLC. Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly. The views stated in this letter are not necessarily the opinion of Cetera Advisor Networks LLC and should not be construed directly or indirectly as an offer to buy or sell any securities mentioned herein. Due to volatility within the markets mentioned, opinions are subject to change with notice. Information is based on sources believed to be reliable; however, their accuracy or completeness cannot be guaranteed. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Please note that neither CWM, LLC or Cetera Advisor Networks LLC nor any of its agents or representatives give legal or tax advice. For complete details, consult with your tax advisor or attorney.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average is comprised of 30 stocks that are major factors in their industries and widely held by individuals and institutional investors.
The NASDAQ Composite Index measures all NASDAQ domestic and non-U.S. based common stocks listed on The NASDAQ Stock Market. The market value, the last sale price multiplied by total shares outstanding, is calculated throughout the trading day, and is related to the total value of the Index.
S&P 500 INDEX
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index is a capitalization weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries.