Treasure hunting for the modern age
April 30, 2018
John Maddison, CFA, CFP®
Relationship Manager, Balentine
“Of course, treasure hunts make much better stories when there’s treasure at the end.” —Eric Berlin
We tend to agree. After all, it’s not too often that we get to tell clients we found them money. While I can’t promise that all our clients are due anything, I can provide some information about where to search (and it’s much easier than boarding a ship with an “’X’ marks the spot” map).
State treasurers are required to maintain missing, lost, and unclaimed property—frequently a result of someone moving (e.g., an overpayment to a power company three apartments ago) or a death (e.g., the executor wasn’t aware of some paper stock certificates when your aunt’s estate was settled).
The National Association of State Treasurers maintains a web-based national database, MissingMoney.com, where you can begin your search of governmental unclaimed property records across most states and provinces. Even if your state doesn’t participate in the database yet (e.g., Georgia), the website still directs you to your state’s unclaimed property to search there.
Common types of unclaimed property include bank accounts, safe deposit box contents, dividends, insurance policies, and trust funds. While I struck out searching my immediate family, I found one record for my grandmother who died almost 20 years ago (I wonder if my mom and aunt will share the spoils with me?), and several clients and other Balentine employees have found property, as well. This exercise could be a great way to engage your children or grandchildren and teach them about wealth while utilizing their internet prowess.
While most folks spend April determining how much they owe the government, perhaps May can be a time when you investigate how much the government owes you! Drop us a line if you find anything.