Louisiana’s State Treasury Department has hundreds of millions in unclaimed funds from lost assets that residents have forgotten about or abandoned. These properties include uncashed payroll checks, old bank accounts, stocks and stock dividends, royalties, utility deposits, interest payments, insurance proceeds, retirement benefits, and the contents of abandoned safe deposit boxes. By law, organizations and businesses are required to turn these over to the state if their owners do not claim them after a period of 3 to 5 years for most assets. A huge piece of the $330 million total Louisiana unclaimed money comes from unclaimed savings bonds. State Treasurer John Kennedy is trying to reunite matured abandoned United States savings bonds as well as other types of Louisiana abandoned property with approximately one in every six of the state’s residents.
Over 80,000 people in Baton Rough alone, owed almost 27 million dollars, are listed in the Louisiana unclaimed funds databases. The State Treasurer recently stated, “The state owes Louisiana residents millions of dollars in unclaimed property, and we want to give this money back.” Louisiana’s Unclaimed Property Law requires the State Treasury Dept. to print names of businesses and individuals who are owed money in newspapers across the state annually on top of making other attempts to seek out the rightful owners. At an “Awareness Day” that was held at the Lakeside Shopping Center, the Louisiana Dept. of Treasury gave back $133,000 in unclaimed funds owed to residents of New Orleans. “This was one of the largest unclaimed property events we’ve ever had,” said Treasurer Kennedy. “We estimate that we had around 3,000 people in attendance over a five hour period. The average unclaimed property claim is typically around $200 to $400, but one individual at the mall claimed more than $20,000.”
The majority of people do not know about government missing money which is one of the main reasons why the total unclaimed funds and cash in the United States currently stands at roughly $35 billion. Tough to believe and a bit ironic, but people also lose track of their money in their haste to earn more of it – especially in the fast paced lives we lead now. Working multiple jobs, skipping from job to job, changing of address or names (due to marriage), retiring, and death are all things that can cause us to lose track of financial assets belonging to us. Mailed checks and financial notices can be sent back to sender if people do not leave behind forwarding addresses (which can happen in emergencies). Disasters such as hurricanes in the past have displaced a number of families, which is sure to cause the already whopping unclaimed property fund in Louisiana to grow larger. Government efforts to reach out to the owners of unclaimed funds are not sufficient in returning all of the 330 million dollars currently in the hands of the state. Residents are encouraged to take matters in to their own hands and do a search for lost cash in Louisiana as well as other states. Louisiana unclaimed funds claims for $250 or more must be notarized, but it’s possible to do a claim online for less than $249. Web searches can be relatively simple and quick – the hard part is knowing where to search.
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