Millions held by state treasurer waiting to be claimed

January 13, 2020
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The state treasurer is holding $2.9 billion in unclaimed funds that officials hope local residents will try to claim in 2020.

Last month, Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs, who oversees the state’s unclaimed property program, recently announced the return of nearly $40,000 to the Salvation Army in Chicago. The proceeds were turned over to state from the estate of Ernest Ulrich, who named the non-profit as a beneficiary. Ulrich passed away in 1999.

The state holds lost or unclaimed funds until they are claimed by either the original owner or their heirs. Property is returned at no cost with the proper identification.

Common types of unclaimed property include checking and savings accounts; uncashed wage and payroll checks; uncashed stock dividends and stock certificates; insurance payments; utility deposits; customer deposits; accounts payable; credit balances; refund checks; money orders; traveler’s checks; court deposits; uncashed death benefit checks; and life insurance proceeds. Unclaimed property does not include real estate or vehicles.

Now, Frerichs said, “is a perfect time to make a list and check it twice to see if you have unclaimed cash or property. We have more than $3 billion waiting to be claimed.”

The Salvation Army is one of thousands of examples of the Illinois treasurer’s office returning unclaimed cash and property to its rightful owners. In fiscal year 2019, which ended June 30, 2019, the treasurer’s office processed about 236,000 claims worth more than $239 million.

By comparison, approximately 116,000 claims were processed in fiscal year 2018 and $180 million was returned; in fiscal year 2017, about 58,000 claims were processed and $159 million was returned; and in fiscal year 2016, roughly 53,000 claims were processed and $155 million was returned.

The state treasurer is legally required to return the property to the rightful owners no matter how long it takes. Individuals can search the state treasurer’s database for their name or the name of their business or non‑profit at www.illinoistreasurer.gov/ICASH.

Because the treasurer’s office accepts unclaimed property twice each year, Frerichs encourages individuals to search the database every six months.

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