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When Is Personal Property Considered Abandoned Missouri

When Is Personal Property Considered Abandoned in Missouri?

Personal property is considered abandoned in Missouri when the owner has intentionally relinquished their rights to it and has no intention of reclaiming it. Abandonment laws vary by state, and understanding when personal property is considered abandoned is important for both individuals and businesses in Missouri. This article will explore the criteria for determining abandonment in the state, provide examples of common situations, and answer frequently asked questions regarding abandoned personal property in Missouri.

Criteria for Determining Abandonment in Missouri:

1. Intent: The owner must demonstrate an intention to abandon the property. This can be established through actions such as leaving the property unattended for an extended period, expressing a lack of interest or desire to reclaim the property, or failing to make necessary arrangements for its care or storage.

2. Notification: The owner must be notified of their rights and given a reasonable opportunity to claim the property. This can be done through written notice, public advertisement, or any other means that are likely to reach the owner and inform them of their rights.

3. Passage of Time: The property must remain unclaimed for a certain period, known as the “statutory period.” In Missouri, the statutory period for most types of personal property is five years. However, some specific categories, such as abandoned vehicles or certain financial assets, may have different statutory periods.

Common Situations of Abandoned Personal Property in Missouri:

1. Rental Units: When a tenant moves out of a rental unit and leaves personal belongings behind, the landlord must follow a specific procedure before disposing of the items. The landlord must provide written notice to the tenant, giving them a reasonable opportunity to claim their belongings. If the tenant fails to respond or retrieve their property within the specified time, it may be considered abandoned.

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2. Storage Units: Similar to rental units, when a tenant fails to pay rent for a storage unit, the facility owner must follow a legal process to notify the tenant. If the tenant does not respond or reclaim their property within a specified time, the storage facility owner may have the right to sell or dispose of the items.

3. Estate Administration: During the administration of an estate, personal property left by the deceased may be considered abandoned if the rightful heirs or beneficiaries do not make any claims or express an interest in the property. The executor or administrator of the estate must follow legal procedures to notify potential claimants and allow them a reasonable opportunity to assert their rights.


1. Can I take abandoned property in Missouri?
No, it is illegal to take or possess abandoned property without following the proper legal procedures. If you believe property is abandoned, you should notify the owner and provide them an opportunity to claim it. If the owner fails to do so, you may need to contact local authorities or legal professionals to ensure you handle the situation correctly.

2. How long do I have to hold onto abandoned property in Missouri?
The statutory period for holding onto abandoned property in Missouri is generally five years. However, it is essential to consult with legal professionals or review specific state laws to determine the applicable statutory period for different types of property.

3. What happens to abandoned property in Missouri?
If the owner fails to reclaim their abandoned property within the specified time and after proper notification, the property may be sold, donated, or disposed of according to Missouri laws. The proceeds from the sale, if any, may be used to cover any outstanding debts or storage costs.

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4. Can I claim abandoned vehicles in Missouri?
Abandoned vehicles in Missouri are subject to specific laws and procedures. Generally, if a vehicle is left unattended on public property for more than 48 hours, it may be considered abandoned. You should contact local law enforcement or the Department of Revenue’s Motor Vehicle Bureau for guidance on how to handle abandoned vehicles.

In conclusion, personal property in Missouri is considered abandoned when the owner intentionally relinquishes their rights and has no intention of reclaiming it. Understanding the criteria for determining abandonment and following the necessary legal procedures is crucial to avoid legal complications. Whether you are a tenant, landlord, storage facility owner, or involved in estate administration, it is essential to consult with legal professionals to ensure compliance with Missouri’s laws regarding abandoned personal property.

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