Imagine getting a letter from your state saying that a relative left behind a big pile of unclaimed money and you need to claim it. That’s exactly what happened to my guest. His father passed away in 2013 and left behind a tangle of financial accounts that were hard to sort out …and one of them went missing. My guest is named Harry. We’re skipping his last name and where he lives. You would too if you had suddenly come into such a nice chunk of money. Welcome, Harry!
People are often skeptical that they would ever lose track of their money and it would become unclaimed. How did it happen to your family?
My father died in 2013 and he had a complex array of accounts. He had dementia and lost his span of control over everything. So I had to do my best to track everything down and apparently I missed an account.
Your dad died in 2013. How long did it take before you heard that their might be unclaimed money out there for him?
2017, so 4 years.
And what actually prompted the state to let you know about the unclaimed money?
It was triggered by my mother dying. Her death was announced in the newspaper and the state put two and two together.
Are you impressed that your state actually does research like that to try to get people’s money back to them? I can tell you that a lot of states would be perfectly happy if nobody ever claimed their money, because they USE our money until we do.
In this case they were terrific. Very easy to work with.
How did you get the news?
I received a letter from the unclaimed property unit of my state and they reported there was unclaimed money for my father. It had been one of his accounts.
Most people I talk to think it’s a scam when they get a letter like that. Did you believe it?
I did believe the letter – I was used to surprises. It took me a year before I thought I had found all my father’s accounts and then I learned I hadn’t. this was something else that popped.
As part of your research, after your father passed, did you check unclaimed money sites?
I don’t think I did look at unclaimed money sites when I was looking for his records after his death.
What did you have to do to claim the money?
All I had to do was file some paperwork. Copies of his death certificate and my mother’s death certificate. They contacted me as representative of her estate. They were incredibly efficient.
Once you had done your part, how long did it take before you received your father’s unclaimed money?
It was about 3 months start to finish and one day the check just arrives in the mail.
OK, now the question everybody’s been wanting me to ask: Harry, how much unclaimed money did you receive?
It was around $85,000. The amount was surprising to me. I had no expectations.
And that was divided between you and two sisters?
It didn’t come to me personally. It came into the estate account and is being parceled out to heirs. There are 3 siblings.
What would your father have thought about his money being lost and then found?
I would like to hope my father would have been happy.
And what about you? Is this meaningful money for you?
I retired in a little over a year ago, so it was very nice in building the nest egg.
Harry, thank you for sharing your story on Easy Money. It proves that unclaimed money can be in the five-figure range like yours was — or even more. And I hope your example inspires other people to check MissingMoney.com and unclaimed.org, both free websites, to see if they, too, have unclaimed money out there.