For many months I’d been urging my friend Tamara to do a search. Finally, when she heard me talking about unclaimed money on Easy Money she decided to take my suggestions to heart. Her long time beau John, was a musician; brilliant, creative and successful— but not so organized with his money. And there were bills to pay after his untimely death. Today Tamara joins me for our featured “Find Yours” segment to share what she found. Welcome Tamara and thanks for doing this.
This is not your typical unclaimed money story. John was a prolific musician. He produced Grammy award winning records for both famous musicians and emerging artists. He was also nominated for Grammys for his own work as a singer songwriter. He was a multi instrumentalist who performed with some of the great musicians of our time. He recorded his own albums. He even sang jingles. Did that make the treasure hunt for unclaimed money interesting?
You are right, it did. He had had so many different careers in music and and traveled far and wide performing and producing. It was a little hard to know where to start.
So where did you begin your search? John lived in Potomac when he died, but had also lived in Washington DC, Virginia, Tennessee and maybe other states too.
Tennessee and Nashville in particular was the first place I started because the focus of his career for many years was Nashville.
As I recall, you ended up speaking to somebody in a state treasurer’s office and they told you there were even more accounts for John than you saw listed online. Am I right?
The woman whom I spoke with was very helpful and I think she did direct me to some other accounts. I spoke with her quite a few times as there was a lot of paper work to do. She was also so kind and sympathetic. Some of the accounts I found were not his. But she found some that I had missed.
Explain how musicians get paid because I think that’s part of how some of his money came to be lost. Am I right?
Its so confusing!!! and during the almost 20 years we were together, the ways musicians are compensated changed dramatically and became even more confusing. Musicians can be paid for performing, producing, publishing (writing) and licensing or a combination of all of those. At John’s level they are paid when they produce recordings and sometimes also accept payment at the ‘back end’ meaning that as the recording sells they are paid a percentage. When films, commercials and TV shows use their work, they’re paid royalties or a lump sum or both depending on what they agree to.
Can you tell if all of John’s unclaimed money was from his music career? Or were there also more mundane listings like the rest of us might have?
There was one sizable check from one of his record labels and some were just refunds from this or that. I don’t know how he ended up missing out on this money. He could have really used it when he was ill.
Was it hard to claim John’s money? I know you’re the executor of his estate, so that gave you standing to do it.
It wasn’t hard but it was a little tedious. I had to document past addresses, work places, then was required to send all the legal documents regarding his estate. I got to know the local Notary Republic very well!
OK, Tamara, the big question: You received a check for John’s unclaimed money. How much was it for?
Wow, that’s real money. Did you use it for anything special?
The money went towards the estate tax bill so nothing exciting. But it was so helpful. And it was fun to celebrate with you and Kris afterwards and drink a toast to John!
And, finally, what advice do you have for others who have lost a loved one, as far as going ahead and doing a search for unclaimed money?
I wasn’t able to do this search until more than a year had passed but it was rewarding and ultimately felt like John was giving me a gift and making my life a little easier. I would tell folks to let their emotions and their heart be their guide. I couldn’t have done this search soon after John died. It took a long time for me to have energy or interest in doing the search. You helped me so much Eli. I would never have done this search had it not been for you!!!
Tamara, thank you so much for sharing your story and your inspiration!
And, a program note, next week I will begin a series of “find yours” segments where I tell you websites where you can search for unclaimed royalties specifically for musicians, actors and other performers.
Search for your unclaimed money: missingmoney.com
Find your unclaimed property: www.unclaimed.org