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Lobbyist Money Help  

Unclaimed Property

January 04, 1996
By: Emily Goodin
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - What do Gov. Mel Carnahan, former President Ronald Reagan, and Kansas City Royals Veteran George Brett have in common? They've all had unclaimed money in Missouri banks found for them by the State Treasurer's Unclaimed Property Division.

Carnahan and Brett had money that didn't reach them. Reagan's money was a campaign contribution that didn't get to him and he donated it to charity.

More than 500 safety deposit boxes from all over the state are being emptied and their contents cataloged by the Unclaimed Property Division.

"Every box is a new journey, so to speak," said Missouri State Treasure Bob Holden.

Under state law, these deposit boxes must be turned over to the State Treasurer's Office if there has been no contact or documented transactions with the owners for seven or more years.

"One out of twelve Missourians have unclaimed property," Holden said. "They don't realize it or their heirs don't realize it."

The Treasurer's office will print a list of owners' names in newspapers in late April or early May. They will also send out postcards to the last know address around the beginning of February.

The cataloging will be finished early next week. Missourians can check to see if they have unclaimed property by sending the owners' names, addresses, Social Security numbers, and last known address (if known) to: State Treasurer's Office, Unclaimed Property Division, P.O. Box 1004, Jefferson City, Mo. 65102-1044.

The cash property is held in trust by the state forever and can be claimed at any time by the original owners or their legal heirs.

The physical property will be held by the State Treasurer's Office until December, when there will be an auction in St. Louis of the remaining unclaimed property that has any value. The proceeds from the sales are recorded in the owners' names and can be claimed by them or their heirs at any time.

Documents, such as the Pony Express documents discovered this week in a box from St. Joseph, will be turned over to historical societies.

Other items discovered this week include credit cards, cash money, foreign coins, and antique jewelry.

"In past years, we've found original papers signed by Abraham Lincoln, solid silver bars, and antique Mormon Bibles," Holden said. "It's like playing Santa Claus year round -- returning money and property to people who are not expecting it."

Last year, the state collected $15 million in unclaimed property -- $2.7 million of that amount was claimed. Currently, the state is holding $78 million in unclaimed property with over 500,000 individual owner listings