How to Find Your Unfound Money

According to the Illinois State Treasurer's Office, its Web site, and those of most states, is identical to any fee-based search company, so it is not necessary to use fee-based services.

Outside of contacting your state treasurer, where else might you discover unfound money? Remember those savings bonds that grandma and grandpa gave you for your birthdays and graduations? More than $13 billion worth of matured savings bonds have never been cashed. Additionally, more than 15,000 savings bonds and 25,000 payments are returned to the Department of the Treasury as undeliverable each year.

If you have matured and uncashed savings bonds, bring them to your local bank where they will cash them in for you. If you think you have lost a savings bond and have a record of the serial numbers, the Bureau of Public Debt (publicdebt.treas.gov) can look up their status. Also, bonds that are lost, stolen, mutilated or destroyed can be replaced free of charge as long as the Bureau of the Public Debt can establish that the bonds have not been cashed.

A few tips on how to keep your assets from going unclaimed:

  • Keep accurate and current records of bank accounts, insurance policies, stock certificates, utility and rent deposits, and safe deposit box locations.
  • Keep accounts active through customer-initiated contact with the holders of your property through activity on your account (not merely the accrual of interest).
  • Notify a family member or trusted adviser of the location of your records.
  • Notify all institutions every time you move.

Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Capital Management in Chicago, is "Good Morning America's" personal finance expert.

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