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Unclaimed Property Rules and Time Limits for Alabama

Filed under Basic Accounting. Fact checked on May 24, 2012.

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Learn the unclaimed property rules and their time limits for the state of Alabama.

In Alabama, all things relating to unclaimed property are handled by the Unclaimed Property Division of the Alabama State Treasury.

  • As a business owner, this will be the agency to contact if you possess unclaimed property (unpaid wages, for example). Remember that you are subject to both reporting requirements and the obligation to turn over abandoned property to the state.
  • It 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).

Alabama businesses have a number of responsibilities concerning unclaimed property. Initially, written notice must 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 fulfill. Most importantly, businesses are required to turn over any and all unclaimed property to the state. Stiff penalties apply to businesses who fail to comply with any of these requirements.

Individuals should know that Alabama property is generally presumed abandoned three years after the owner's right to demand the property or the obligation to pay or distribute the property arises, whichever comes first. However, 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 three years to reclaim it before the state sells the property to the highest bidder at a public sale.

Reporting Unclaimed Property in Alabama

A holder of abandoned property must file a verified annual report containing information concerning the property required by the State Treasurer. The report is due on or before November 1, as of June 30, except insurance companies which file on a calendar year basis ( i.e., on or before May 1, as of December 31 of the preceding year). The Treasurer has discretion to authorize an extension of the filing date based on a written request filed before the expiration of the due date.

Prior notice to owner.The holder of property presumed abandoned must send written notice to the apparent owner, not more than 120 days or less than 60 days before filing the report, stating that the holder is in possession of unclaimed property if: (1) the holder has an address for the owner which the holder's records do not disclose to be inaccurate; (2) the claim of the apparent owner is not barred by the statute of limitations; and (3) the value of the property if $50 or more. Businesses may provide aggregate reporting for property valued at less than $50.

Delivery. Except for property held in a safe deposit box or other safekeeping depository, abandoned property must be delivered or remitted to the Treasurer simultaneously with the filing of the report. Property held in a safe deposit box or other depository must be delivered within 120 days after filing the report. A holder who pays or delivers property to the Treasurer in good faith is relieved of any liability that may arise in respect of the property.

Recordkeeping. Generally, business must maintain related records 10 years after unclaimed property is reported. However, the period is three years for traveler's checks, money orders, and similar financial instruments.

Penalties. The penalty for failing to report, pay, or deliver property within the time prescribed is $100 for each business day of violation, up to a maximum of $5,000. The penalty for willfully failing to report, pay, or deliver property to the Treasurer within the time prescribed, or willful failure to perform other required duties, is $500 for each business day up to a maximum of $25,000. A holder who makes an intentional fraudulent report must pay a civil penalty of $1,000 for each business day from the date a report was due, up to a maximum of $25,000. The Treasurer may waive penalties for good cause.

Claiming Unclaimed Property in Alabama

Property is generally presumed abandoned three years after the owner's right to demand the property or the obligation to pay or distribute the property arises, whichever comes first. However, 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 three years to reclaim it before the state sells the property to the highest bidder at a public sale.

Locating abandoned property held by the state. In Alabama, unclaimed property held by the state may be found by searching the state's web site.

To find out if other states may be holding your unclaimed property, search the national database established by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA).

Filing a claim. A person, including a state, 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 must allow or deny the claim and give written notice to the claimant within 120 days after the claim is filed.

A person aggrieved by a decision of the Treasurer or whose claim was not acted upon within 120 days after the filing date may commence an action for declaratory judgment against the Treasurer in the Circuit Court of Montgomery County.

Alabama Unclaimed Property Resources

If you're looking for additional information on unclaimed property, we recommend contacting your state's governmental agency that oversees the administration of this area of the law. For help in answering a specific unclaimed property question in Alabama, contact the following:

Alabama State Treasury
Unclaimed Property Division
P.O. Box 302520
Montgomery, AL
36130-2520
Phone: (888) 844-8400
Fax: (334) 242-9620
Website: www.treasury.state.al.us

Each state has rules that specify the amount of time that must elapse before unclaimed property is considered to be abandoned. The amount of time varies with the type of property. The chart below specifies the time period for various classes of property.

Property Type Presumed Abandoned After
Bank account Three years after the earlier of maturity or the date of the last indication by the apparent owner of interest in the property.
A deposit that is automatically renewable is deemed matured for purposes of the above upon its initial date of maturity, unless the apparent owner has consented to a renewal at or about the time of the renewal. The consent to renew must be in writing, evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file with the account holder, or otherwise indicate the apparent owner's interest in the deposit.
Property distributable by a business association in the course of dissolution One year after the property becomes distributable.
Checks or drafts three years
Demutualization proceeds two years
Gift certificates, gift cards, and credit memos Gift certificates/cards: three years after June 30 of the year sold.
Customer credits: one year.
In-store merchandise credits or gift certificates and cards issued or maintained by a retailer are exempt from reporting requirements. For example, this would include a store credit issued for a return of merchandise without a receipt.
Insurance policies Life or annuity policies: three years.
The presumed maturity of an insurance policy is three years.
IRAs or retirement funds three years
Money orders five years
Other intangible personal property not otherwise specified Business association debt: three years.
Other property: three years.
Proceeds from class action suits one year
Property held by courts or public agencies one year
Property held by fiduciaries three years
Safe deposit boxes three years
Shares in a financial institution three years
Stocks, dividends, and distributions three years
Traveler's checks 15 years
Deposits and advances owed utility company customer one year
Wages or salaries one year

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