It's my cousin's birthday. I can't think of a suitable gift. I go to the bank and get a draft (cashier's) check for $100 payable to my cousin. (It's an example scenario. No need to compare it with personal checks or with gift certificates.)

On the birthday, I give the check as a gift. My cousin puts it in a folder "to be processed on the next trip to the bank" but forgets about it. The check is never cashed.

What happens to the money? The bank doesn't even know how to contact my cousin (they just have a name). Suppose I'm still a customer of the same bank many years later. Will they contact me eventually and say "your $100 were never cashed, please come pick them up"? Will they wait 75 years and give the money to the state, as with dormant accounts whose owners vanish? Is the money a profit for the bank, until/unless cashed?

2 Answers 2


Most likely the bank will keep it on file for a few years then turn it over to the state as "unclaimed property". I can't speak for all states though.

  • Do you have a reference for this?
    – Marcus D
    Oct 30, 2016 at 21:38
  • 1
    @MarcusD: See sco.ca.gov/upd_faq_about_q01.html for an example. Oct 30, 2016 at 21:40
  • I was asking the poster to improve their answer with a reference, as it seems like a piece of opinion, but thx for the links @NateEldredge
    – Marcus D
    Oct 30, 2016 at 21:43
  • Not an opinion, my experience.
    – mannaggia
    Oct 31, 2016 at 3:13

You purchased the check from the bank. Your funds have been transferred.

If the recipient never cashed the check, the money continues to be the bank's, just as if you had written s normal check that didn't get cashed the money would sit in your account.

  • The only time I ever got a cashiers check, the funds were immediately withdrawn from my account. That's the only way that the bank can promise that their check is good. And since the check was not drawn against the OP's checking account he has to go to the bank to make sure it cleared Oct 30, 2016 at 19:15
  • 1
    @Keshlam, in most states, the bank would be required after a certain period of time to turn the money over to the state so that the state can determine who it goes to. And in many instances, banks will put expiration dates on cashier's checks, making them good for 180 days, so if they aren't presented for payment in that time period, the bank would have to follow state law regarding what to do with the money. Oct 31, 2016 at 1:46

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