Unclaimed Cash

December 15, 2011 by staff 

Unclaimed Cash, If the holiday decorations on your neighbor’s home seem particularly extravagant this year, there may be an explanation. Missouri Treasurer Clint Zweifel announced Wednesday that his office sent a Kansas City woman an early Christmas present — $6.1 million — the value of property the unidentified woman apparently had no idea she owned. She knows now.

It’s the largest unclaimed property payment ever in Missouri, and could well be the largest such claim in U.S. history. “It’s a huge amount of money,” Zweifel said.  The woman asked the treasurer’s office to sell the security and she received the cash payment in November, his office said.

Zweifel said his staff began looking for the woman last September, when a single security was turned over to his office as unclaimed property. Someone related to the lucky recipient had purchased the obscure financial instrument some time ago, and its value had, well, increased.

Like other states, Missouri collects cash from dormant bank accounts, old government refunds, stocks, bonds and safe deposit box property that its owners appear to have abandoned for five years or more. The state holds the cash or securities until an owner can be found. Sometimes it auctions personal items and then gives the cash to the owners or heirs.

Many of the amounts are small, often $50 or less, although the average is about $365. Usually owners file a claim after they find their names on the state’s unclaimed property database at

In some cases, like this one, the treasurer’s office actively searches for the owner.

“Sometimes people do see their names on the website, but that’s not for a $6.1 million claim,” Zweifel said. “We’re proactively doing these things all the time.”

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