Under Michigan law, personal property held by someone other than the owner is considered abandoned to the state if the owner fails to claim it for a specified number of years. Presently, the new dormancy period for almost all types of property (other than certain traveller’s checks) is three –five years. Previously, the dormancy periods for different types of property varied considerably.

An abandoned property is classified as a property left by an owner who intentionally relinquishes all rights to its control. Real property may not be abandoned. At common law, a person who finds abandoned property may claim it. To do so, the finder must take definite steps to show their claim.

Hn Michigan, all things relating to unclaimed property are handled by the Unclaimed Property Division of the Michigan Department of Treasury. As a business owner, this is the right agency to contact if you possess unclaimed property (unpaid wages, for example).

Also have it in mind that you are subject to both reporting requirements and the obligation to turn over abandoned property to the state. This agency is also the point of contact if you believe that you may have knowingly, or unknowingly, abandoned property (for example, failing to get back a security deposit, didn’t receive a tax refund).

Businesses or individuals in Michigan have a number of responsibilities in terms unclaimed property. Initially, written notice is expected to be sent to the apparent owner of the unclaimed property, if known. If the property remains unclaimed, businesses have a number of filing and reporting requirements to fulfil. However, all unclaimed properties are required to turn over to the state.

Note that stiff penalties apply to businesses who fail to comply with any of these requirements. As was the case before the law was changed, the dormancy period begins at different times for different types of personal property. Anyone holding unclaimed property should carefully determine when the dormancy period for that particular type of property begins to run.

A person who fails to file a required report of unclaimed property or who fails to pay or deliver the property to the Treasury Department as required by Michigan law may be subject to civil and criminal penalties. However, this modified dormancy periods do not apply if the property owner is actively serving in the military outside of the U.S.

How to Reclaim an Abandoned Property in Michigan

In Michigan, property is generally presumed abandoned if it has remained unclaimed by the owner for more than three– five years after it became payable or distributable. Nonetheless, always remember that this time limit varies depending on the type of property involved. Once abandoned property is turned over to the state by a business, an individual then has the burden of reclaiming it from the state.

  1. Find the Unclaimed Property

You have to start by visiting the Michigan Department of Treasury’s website and choose the yellow box noted as Unclaimed Property. There is a rectangular box with Search for Your Money. Then your name or business name and Search! If there is unclaimed property for the name or business, a screen will show up with the name, property number and from whom the property was transferred to the State of Michigan.

  1. Fill the Initial Inquiry Form

Once you have ascertained that the property belongs to the name/company, an initial inquiry form (Form 3433 – Unclaimed Property Inquiry) is expected to be filled out, notarized, signed and mailed to Michigan Department of Treasury (Attn: Unclaimed Property, P.O. Box 30756, Lansing, MI 48909). The claimant will also have to provide copies of documentation proving the identity of the individual/company.

  1. Provide all Necessary Documentations

Note that the documentation required will surely depend on whether an individual, parent on behalf of a minor child, deceased property owner or business property owner is trying to claim the property. For instance, if an individual property owner, then the following are required:

  • Picture identification (driver’s license or identification card)
  • Social Security card
  • If your name differs from how it appears on the Unclaimed Property website, legal documentation supporting the name change is necessary. For example, marriage license if married and name changed.

Howbeit, note that every instruction you need for the Form 3433 are on page 2 of the form and include types of claimants and required documentation. The claimant will also have to include the property owner’s name as it appears on the Unclaimed Property web search and property number(s).

List all former Michigan addresses used by the property owner. If there are additional properties which belong to the property owner, they will be added to the claim. Allow 90 days for processing from the date the form was mailed. A formal claim form may be required to provide additional documentation.

  1. Filing a Claim

A person claiming an interest in any property paid or delivered as abandoned property under the Uniform Disposition Act may file a claim with the Treasurer, who is expected to consider such claim within 90 days after it is filed.

If the claimant is another state, the claim is also expected to satisfy certain requirements that establish a reasonable basis for the state’s claim. A claim is initiated by searching the state’s website. If a search turns up a claimant’s name, follow the link to complete an initial inquiry form.

Also note that any person dissatisfied with a decision of the Treasurer or whose claim was not acted upon within 90 days after the filing date may, within 90 days after the decision of the Treasurer or 180 days after filing the claim not acted upon, commence an action in the circuit court to establish the claim against the Treasurer.

Conclusion

Individuals should know that Michigan property is generally presumed abandoned if it has remained unclaimed by the owner for more than three- five years after it became payable or distributable. If you’re looking for additional information on unclaimed property, it is advisable you contact the state’s Unclaimed Property Division of the Michigan Department of Treasury.

Ajaero Tony Martins