Planning Ahead - June 11, 2008

Unclaimed property: Find your missing money

Bob CondronJune 10, 2008 

Bob Condron, CFP, MSFS, is a registered representative of Bridge Financial Partners and securities are offered through H.D. Vest Investment ServicesSM, A non-bank subsidiary of Wells Fargo & Company. He can be reached by calling 548-8875 or sending an e-mail to bcondron@bridgefp.com.

Active participation in associations and organizations will often require you to attend a lot of meetings. I recently attended a luncheon with the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce. At this meeting, the main speaker was Converse A. Chellis III, the South Carolina state treasurer. Treasurer Chellis is one of those people you almost instantly like and trust.

He has a soft-spoken manner that belies his strong convictions and integrity.

One comment that Chellis made during his presentation was about the South Carolina unclaimed property program referred to as the Palmetto Payback Program. This program is designed to provide a centralized search and to safeguard property until it can be returned to the rightful owner. The Palmetto Payback Program is currently holding approximately $241 million in unclaimed property. Some of the property includes bank accounts, stock certificates, checks, insurance policies and utility deposits.

I was a bit skeptical of the idea that the state of South Carolina could hold property that belonged to me but curiosity overcame my concerns. I went to the Web site that Chellis spoke of at the meeting, www.treasurer.sc.gov. At the site, I was able to click on a few items that led me to another site, www.missingmoney.com. It was there that I entered my information.

To be totally honest, the state of South Carolina is not holding any assets in my name. I did notice that I could search many other states, and by now I was really curious. To shorten the story, the search found that the state of Pennsylvania was holding money for me using an address I lived at for less than three months in 1981. I quickly began looking up the names of family and friends and found that my sister had money reported by a college in 1980.

My search did not stop with individuals. I soon began to look up the names companies that were my clients and of several other prominent companies in York County. I found quite a few that had money in South Carolina and in other states throughout the country. This was just too much fun, so I called them. My clients were quite happy, both the individuals and the controllers for the businesses.

Today's economy is putting a lot of strain on the financial abilities of individuals, small companies and large corporations. Although not every state is using the "Missing Money" site, each state does have a process to obtain, hold and distribute unclaimed property.

According to Barbara Rice, South Carolina Assistant State Treasurer, the only safe way to search for unclaimed property is through the state sponsored sites such as www.treasurer.sc.gov or www.missingmoney.com. In South and North Carolina, I suggest you contact the state treasurer's office to see if you have any missing money.

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