So what happens to the items in a safety deposit box when someone dies, but has no heirs or the heirs can’t be found? What happens when somebody is due a tax refund, but the state can’t locate that person? What happens when somebody moves and has a bank account that they forgot about and they can’t be located?
In Kentucky, the short answer to these questions is these items end up in the unclaimed property department of the Kentucky State Treasurer’s Office, and all these things really add up.
Currently, there are millions of dollars worth of assets being held by the state treasurer’s office, including more than $3 million worth of assets that have come from just Whitley County.
“It may not be all people that still live here. It may be people that used to live here or are some how connected to here,” Kentucky Treasurer Allison Ball told a group gathered at the Whitley County Courthouse Thursday afternoon.
Since Ball took office nearly four years ago, a little over $2 million in unclaimed property has been returned to people in Whitley County, and $83 million to people across the state.
“I want to get unclaimed property back to Kentuckians. I tell people it is basically a statewide lost and found. There is a lot of money that gets lost. Sometimes it is actual tangible items. I have a big vault in my office. There are a lot of military metals and things like that,” Ball said.
There are also some odd items too.
“I have a lot of teeth in the treasury. People lose teeth and put them in lock boxes. They come my way. As long as I have been in office, I haven’t had a single person request their teeth back. Occasionally people will say, ‘You just need to put that under a pillow and you can solve all the pension problems. Just have the tooth fairy come and take care of all that,’” she added jokingly.
Ball said the largest amount she has returned at one time was $1.2 million that went to someone right here in Whitley County.
“It was an estate as they often are,” she said. “Sometimes it is a lot of money. Usually it is smaller amounts.”
The good news there is a national database for unclaimed property at www.missingmoney.com, which you can log onto in order to find out whether you have any missing items or whether your family members have any.
“It is a legitimate thing. It is your money and I want to get it back to you. Take a look at missingmoney.com. Take a look for yourself. Look for your family members. Look for the people you go to church with, and other people you know,” she added.