Did You Forget Something?
How would you like to go to your mailbox and discover a refund check from a bank you barely remember visiting? Maybe you dream of receiving an inheritance from a long-lost uncle. Imagine finding an old coin collection that you forgot you even had. All of these pleasant surprises are possible, and could be just a few clicks away.
Banks, financial institutions and other businesses are required to audit their records and look for dormant accounts. When they find accounts that haven’t been accessed for a long time, they turn the money over to the state treasurer. The same is true for safe deposit boxes. When the rent stops being paid, the bank eventually empties the box and forwards the contents to the state as unclaimed property.
Currently, the state treasurer’s unclaimed property fund contains about $1 billion in cash and artifacts. All of that loot is waiting for the rightful owners to come forward. The treasurer manages more than five million unclaimed property accounts. One out of every 10 people in the state has an account in their name. Many people have multiple accounts.
To find out whether you are entitled to unclaimed property, log onto https://treasurer.mo.gov/ and enter your name in the “search unclaimed property” field at the top of the web page. You’ll see a list of every unclaimed property account that matches your name.
I searched for my own name recently and discovered several small accounts. Apparently, I left $2 somewhere. Somebody else owes me $4. Honestly, I have no idea what these funds are. Maybe I overpaid for something. Perhaps I had interest due when I closed a bank account. Who knows? But, it’s my money, and I can have it back.
Claiming unclaimed property is easy and only takes a few minutes on the treasurer’s website. A few weeks later, a check arrives in the mail. If you prefer, you can donate your windfall to one of more than a dozen approved charities. It’s your choice.
Obviously, no one will get rich cashing in small accounts like mine, but maybe you’ve got a larger check coming. While I searched my name, I saw other Justin Browns who were due $50 or more. Sometimes, the returns are even greater. The current state treasurer returned $1 million in unclaimed property during his first nine days in office. The largest refund during that time was $225,000.
Contents of abandoned bank safe deposit boxes are turned over to the state treasurer after five years with no contact or activity from the owners. These items are sold at public auction and the proceeds go into an account held for the person who rented the box. Last year’s auction included more than 4,000 recovered items, ranging from coins and jewelry to baseball cards and historic artifacts.
One of the more common items found in safe deposit boxes is U.S. Savings Bonds. Because bonds are often purchased as gifts for children, the treasurer’s office suggests searching the website for names of parents, grandparents and others whose unclaimed property may have been intended for heirs.
Military insignia, awards and medals found in safe deposit boxes never go to auction, but are stored by the treasurer until a rightful owner claims them. The treasurer’s website even includes a photo gallery of these items, linked to the last person associated with the deposit box.
You can think of the state treasurer’s unclaimed property program as Missouri’s lost and found box. Who knows what surprises it holds in store? It only takes a few moments to check, so I encourage all Missourians to log onto https://treasurer.mo.gov/ and see if there’s a treasure waiting with your name on it.
It’s my honor to serve as your senator for the 16th District. If you have questions or need any assistance, please call my office at 573-751-5713 or log onto my webpage at https://www.senate.mo.gov/brown for more information.