Unclaimed property laws in Montana may be found in 2005 Montana Code – Part 8 — Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. The act clearly defines when property is considered abandoned and when it must be turned over to the Treasurer of the State of Montana. Like many other states, Montana does not maintain its own database of abandoned property, instead it shares a database with 37 other states.
Types of property covered
Unclaimed property laws in Montana cover payments due to consumers who have overpaid a bill, abandoned bank accounts of all types and property found in safe deposit boxes. As with most states, the companies who hold these assets are required to notify the account owner at their last known address prior to turning the property over to the state. The formal name for this process is called “escheatment”.
When property is abandoned
In most cases, property is considered abandoned after the account holder has lost touch with the account owner. This means that the owner has not made a deposit, cashed other checks or sent in a change of address. The period of dormancy varies from one year for wages paid by check that are not cashed to as many as 15 years for travelers checks.
To claim property that has been escheated subject to the unclaimed property laws in Montana, the rightful owner or their heirs must first identify the property. This may be done by searching the Missing Money database. It is important to note, however, that property is not listed in this database until two years after it has been turned over to the state.
Since Montana is a custodial state, the only property that is turned over to them is property where the rightful owner was a resident. Property that has been unclaimed less than two years may be identified by contacting the Montana Department of Revenue. Newly escheated property is listed in local newspapers in the fall of the year they were turned over to the state. In addition, those who believe they may be entitled to property may contact the Unclaimed Property Division by email at UnclaimedProperty@mt.gov, or by telephone toll free at 1-866-859-2254 (in Helena, 444-6900).
While many companies may offer heirs their services to find property that is abandoned, there is no need to pay any fees to find and claim property. The unclaimed property laws in Montana (as in most states) allow owners and heirs to search for and claim property at any time. Those who have received a letter from a property location service should contact the State of Montana; if property is being held it may be claimed without making a payment.