Information On Unclaimed Retirement Funds
Much like other unclaimed federal funds, unclaimed retirement funds cannot be held by the companies who paid them, but must be claimed by the employee to whom they belong. These funds can be of large or small values depending on the length of time during which that employee worked and accumulated funds through a company toward retirement.
It may seem like something that you couldn't possibly forget about, but many men and women across the United States have left retirement money sitting unclaimed due to a cross country move, a new job, or something else that left them unable to provide the correct contact information with the employer through which these funds were earned.
Who Can Claim These Funds:
Obviously, the employee who earned these funds can request them, but there are others who can gain access to this information as well. Past employers looking for those who are owed retirement money may inquire through online registries. These companies are not able to claim the funds themselves but must hold it for the individuals they belong to. Many employees who forget their 401K contributions and leave them behind cannot be contacted by previous employers without help locating them.
Family members and estate managers can also inquire about these unclaimed retirement funds and may even be able to claim them if the owner of the money is diseased and no longer able to claim it for him or herself. If you know somebody in your family who left their retirement funds forgotten through a previous employer, but who has passed away, you should contact a lawyer to determine what can be done to obtain the money.
How To Determine If You are Owed Unclaimed Retirement Funds:
Fortunately, because companies aren't able to appropriate for themselves unclaimed retirement funds they must find the individuals who are entitled to them. Many of these employers will use online sources and national registries to find a previous employee and transfer the balance to them so that it is no longer taking up space in their accounting logs. This means that as an ex-employee, you can use the same online registries and lost 401K websites to find out if you have ever left any money behind unknowingly.
While most people recognize their retirement contributions and are eager to claim them when they leave a position, sometimes this information can be forgotten in the shuffle. If you aren't comfortable using an online registry, but you have documentation of previous employment and you feel retirement funds may be waiting, you can also contact the company directly and inquire whether anything is owed to you.
If you are owed money and are certain that a company has neglected to pay you what you have earned in terms of promised retirement funds, you may need to contact a legal professional. It is rare that a company will try and withhold these payments as they are mandatory if they were included in the original contract, but from time to time these cases do pop up. Even if you don't think you have any forgotten retirement earnings waiting for you, it never hurts to double check.
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