Unclaimed Money: Expert Mary Pitman Answers Your Questions


P.O. from North Carolina asked:

My grandmother had two savings account for myself and my daughter. After she passed away, my brother was executor of her will and didn't close those particular accounts out. I had forgotten about them. I have tried to track them down but the bank has evidently been sold a number of times. I have made numerous calls to California, but have been unable to find any information about these accounts. Is there any central place I can go to see if they are still there, or if she had closed them out?

Pitman answered:

Try the state unclaimed property site where your accounts were. If the bank closed completely, you can check with the FDIC. You can search bank "genealogy" by going to the National Information Center, and clicking on the "Institution Search" tab. If there was only a modest amount and the bank charged fees, the fees may have eaten up the balance.

T.P. of Ohio asked:

Just yesterday I received a letter from "Revenue Recovery Services" based in Temecula, Calif. They said I have an amount of $2,850 due to me from when I lived and worked in Santa Barbara. I am now in Ohio and they did have my correct address from Santa Barbara. All I have to do is sign the letter and promise to pay them 10 percent of any monies I get as their fee and they will send me the official claim form with instructions. Is there a need to use such a company or is something I can research on my own? And, how do I make sure they would not try and charge me other fees if I did use them?

Pitman answered:

Check the California Unclaimed Property site yourself. If it's not there, call them and ask them to search too and also ask them about the finder. You can also check your county and state tax office to see if it is an overpayment. Those listings don't usually appear on the unclaimed property site. The other option is the clerk of the court if you had any legal claims.

V. D'A. of New York asked:

I am wondering how I can find out if my mother had life insurance with her company. She passed away in 1997, prior to that she told me she was getting life insurance through her job and I believe a pension plan as well. When she passed away I called her job and the company changed names several times and I never found anything out. I am her beneficiary on her house and I am in the process of selling it now and moving so I would love to find out.

Pitman answered:

For the pension, check the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation. I would ask to speak to the benefits administrator at the company she worked for. If that person can't answer who was providing life insurance policies at the time your mom worked there, ask to speak to the next person up. The information has to be there somewhere, possibly on an old pay stub if they have a record of it.

P.B.J. of Michigan asked:

How do I research for annuities that my ex-husband had in my name? I found some lost money but the state said that his children would have to file. He has no children and I was taking care of him before he died, so I was still a part of his life.

Pitman answered:

If he named you as the beneficiary, no one else matters. Other than that, if he has no other blood relatives, then you may be eligible.

R.P. of Illinois asked:

My father bought U.S. savings bonds for my son from age 8 on. My father is now deceased, but is it possible for my now 50-year-old son to locate and collect on those bonds?

Go to the U.S. Treasury.

K.J. of Texas asked:

My mother died when I was 16-years-old, and I know she had CDs and several bank accounts. I am wondering how I can find out if the money was ever claimed. She was not married at the time and I think it may have gone to the state. I don't have her social security number or anything like that. She was living in Texas at the time.

Pitman answered:

Search the Texas unclaimed property site under her maiden name. If you need the Social Security number, you can go to the Social Security Death Index.

E.P. from Minnesota asked:

I saved money in a 401k 20 years ago and never rolled it over. Now the company that administers the funds has changed hands three times. None of the companies say they have the money, in fact they say they haven't heard of me. What can I do?

Pitman answered:

Check the National Registry of Unclaimed Retirement Benefits. If the plan was terminated, check the Department of Labor Employee Benefits Security Administration.

J.O.Y. of Illinois asked:

My mother bought some U.S. savings bonds for me many years ago. I cannot find the paperwork that shows these were purchased. What can I do to locate these bonds? Is there a central location where I can find the bonds? They may have been bought in a couple of states.

Pitman answered:

Go to the US Treasury.

L.H. of Texas asked:

I have been married three times, so basically I need to search under four different names – is that correct? How do I begin my search? Also, why aren't other states as interested in getting people their money back as Virginia?

Pitman answered:

You can search under as many names as you want! States keep the interest that they earn on the unclaimed property money. Some borrow from it. Nevada recently borrowed $10 million to bring business to the state.

J.S. from Michigan asked:

I found my deceased step-father on the missing money site. I am unsure if I am actually entitled to claim it. He had no other children and my mother is also deceased. It asks for a copy of his death certificate and I am also unsure of how to obtain that.

Pitman answered:

If he has no other blood relatives, i.e. siblings or their children, then you may be eligible. I would call the state first and check your status. You can get a copy of the death certificate by going to the Department of Vital Statistics in the state in which he died. There will be a charge to get it.

P.B. of Illinois asked:

My aunt, who resided in another state, told me she had an insurance policy on which I was named the beneficiary. She said the policy was purchased through an association to which she belonged. After my aunt died, I asked a relative who was my aunt's caretaker about the policy, and was told there was no such policy. How can I go about trying to find out if there are funds from such a policy, or if the policy might have been redeemed fraudulently?

Pitman answered:

What interests did she have that she might have joined an association? Did you ever see magazines that might indicate an association publication? Perhaps through her church? Alumni group? See above for my extended answer about life insurance.

T.F. of Mississippi asked:

Could I have unclaimed Social Security checks held that were due and not claimed due to not knowing where to mail them to? How do I find out?

Pitman answered:

Check directly with the Social Security Administration.

Click HERE for other tips and tricks for finding unclaimed money left by a loved one.

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