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Unclaimed Property Rules and Time Limits for North Carolina

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 North Carolina.

In North Carolina, all things relating to unclaimed property are handled by the Department of the State Treasurer.

  • 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).

North Carolina 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 North Carolina property is generally presumed abandoned if there have been no documented transactions or contact with the owners for one to five years. 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 the burden of reclaiming it from the state.

Reporting Unclaimed Property in North Carolina

In North Carolina, holders of abandoned property must file a report with the Department of the State Treasurer before November 1 of each year that covers property for the 12 months preceding July 1 of that year, except that a report with respect to a life insurance company must be filed before May 1 of each year for the preceding calendar year. The Treasurer may extend the time to file a report upon written request.

Prior notice to owner. A holder of property presumed abandoned must mail a notice to the last-known address of the apparent owner not more than 120 days or less than 60 days before filing the abandoned property report if the value of the property is at least $50.

Delivery. a holder of abandoned property that has filed a report must pay or deliver the property to the Treasurer with the report. Special provisions apply if the property is an automatically renewable deposit or security.

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

Penalties. a holder who willfully fails to report, pay, or deliver property within the time required by law, or willfully fails to perform other duties imposed by law, is liable for interest at a rate to be established by the Treasurer and, in addition, a civil penalty of $1,000 for each day the report, payment, or delivery is withheld, or the duty is not performed, up to a maximum of $25,000, plus 25 percent of the value of the property not reported.

Interest and penalties may be waived by the Treasurer for good cause.

Claiming Unclaimed Property in North Carolina

In North Carolina, property is generally presumed abandoned if there have been no documented transactions or contact with the owners for one to five years. 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 the burden of reclaiming it from the state.

Locating abandoned property held by the state. Unclaimed property held by the state may be found by searching the state's website (https://www.nctreasurer.com/Claim-Your-Cash/Claim-Your-NC_Cash/Pages/default.aspx).

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).

North Carolina also has a very proactive unclaimed property notification system. After registering online, (https://www.nctreasurer.com/Claim-Your-Cash/Claim-Your-NC_Cash/Pages/default.aspx) the North Carolina Department of the State Treasurer does a monthly check of its database against the information entered by registrants and, if there's a match, sends registrants an email notice of any unclaimed property found.

Filing a claim. Any person claiming an interest in property delivered to the North Carolina Treasurer may file a claim online (https://www.nctreasurer.com/Claim-Your-Cash/Claim-Your-NC_Cash/Pages/default.aspx) after performing a successful online search. Within 90 days, the Treasurer must make a determination in writing.

If the claim is denied, the Treasurer must state the reasons for the denial and specify what additional evidence is required. The claimant may then file a new claim with the Treasurer or file an action in the Superior Court of Wake County. If the claim is allowed, the Treasurer must deliver the property or pay the net proceeds to the claimant within 30 days.

North Carolina 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 North Carolina, contact the following:

North Carolina Department of the State Treasurer
Unclaimed Property Program
325 North Salisbury Street
Raleigh, NC 27603-1385
Phone: (919) 508-1000
Fax: (919) 508-5167
E-mail: unclaimed.property@nctreasurer.com
Website: https://www.nctreasurer.com/Claim-Your-Cash/Claim-Your-NC_Cash/Pages/default.aspx

North Carolina Abandoned Property Time Limits

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 Demand and savings deposits: five years
Time deposits: 10 years.
Checks or drafts no specific provision
Demutualization proceeds three years
Gift certificates, gift cards, and credit memos gift certificates and electronic gift cards with an expiration date: three years after they are sold
Customer credit: three years
Insurance policies Life or annuity policies: three years
IRAs or retirement funds IRAs and defined benefit plan funds: three years
Money orders seven years
Other intangible personal property not otherwise specified amounts paid on unclaimed lay-aways: three years
Debts of business associations: five years
Other intangible personal property: five years
Proceeds from class action suits one year
Property distributable by a business association in the course of dissolution one year
Property held by courts or public agencies one year
Property held by fiduciaries no specific provision
Safe deposit boxes two years
Shares in a financial institution no specific provision
Stocks, dividends, and distributions three years
Traveler's checks 15 years
Deposits and advances owed utility company customer deposits and refunds: one year
Wages or salaries two years

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