By Caroline Eggers | Bowling Green Daily News

For the third year in a row, the Kentucky State Treasury returned a record amount of unclaimed property in 2018.

Allison Ball, state treasurer | Screenshot Kentucky State Treasurer

Since taking office, Treasurer Allison Ball has reunited citizens statewide with about $70.2 million, according to her office.

“We’ve been really excited,” said Lorran Hart Ferguson, communications director and deputy general counsel at the Office of the Kentucky State Treasurer. “The treasurer is a big believer in property rights and loves to return money to people.”

It’s pretty easy for people to find out if they have unclaimed property – and to get it back.

Unclaimed property – which could belong to an individual or an organization – can be a variety of things, such as a payroll check, an unclaimed safety deposit box or old life instance policies, stocks or vendor checks. Sometimes it’s the result of someone overpaying their utility bill.

After about three years, banks and other financial institutions turn over the unclaimed property to the Kentucky State Treasury. Then, only the owner, heir or court-appointed representative can file a claim for unclaimed property.

To do that, people simply search for their name on the national unclaimed property database, missingmoney.com, and browse the results for their name next to a current or previous address.

“We always encourage people to search,” Ferguson said. “It only takes a few minutes. … We hear from a lot of people who think they don’t have unclaimed property and discover that they do.”

If property is found, the individual will have to submit a claim form with proof of identity (i.e. driver’s license) and proof of an address. There is no charge for claims under $10, but there is a $1 flat charge for any claim over $10.

After about two weeks, the individual will receive a check from the office.

For nonprofits, local governments and school districts, the treasurer’s office will attempt to proactively return the funds.

“Those are groups that could always use extra funding,” Ferguson said.

The National Association of State Treasurers describes the treasurer’s task as a “vital consumer protection program.”

To prevent property from becoming lost, the association recommends contacting institutions that hold your money or property when there is an address change or change in marital status, as most financial institutions do not forward mail for security reasons.

Additional recommendations include keeping accurate financial records, cashing checks for dividends, wages or insurance settlements without delay and giving an extra key of one’s safety deposit box to a trusted person – as well as filing a will detailing the disposition of assets.

Kentucky residents can learn more about unclaimed property at treasury.ky.gov/unclaimedproperty.

There is no time limit on claiming property.

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