State Holds Millions in Unclaimed Property - NBC4 Washington

State Holds Millions in Unclaimed Property



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    The state of Maryland is holding on to $900-million, and some of it may belong to you.

    The money is in the state comptroller's Unclaimed Property Unit, where it simply sits and waits.

    Sara London and her husband just came into some money.  It was their money all along, the Potomac, Maryland couple just didn't know about it until a friend had to do a research project.

    "He just put in names of people he knew,” London said.  “And he just put in our name, it's a close family friend, and my husband's name popped up."

    Unclaimed Property

    [DC] Unclaimed Property
    News4's Aaron Gilchrist examines the lost items the state of Maryland is holding.
    (Published Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011)

    The Londons' name was put in a website like  It ultimately took them to a dozen small checks and stocks, all unclaimed.

    "The stock, I wanted to know why my husband hadn't followed up on," London said.  "He does a fair amount of investing, so no, he better not have dropped the ball."

    Thousands of people do drop the ball.  In Maryland, the law says any items left unclaimed for three years in safe deposit boxes, bank accounts, security deposits or insurance benefits have to be turned over to the state.

    "I remember the first year, we presented a big check to a couple.  It was over a quarter of a million dollars,” said Peter Franchot, Maryland Comptroller.  “And the wife really got upset with the husband because, she said, 'I told you!'"

    The Maryland Comptroller's Office actively searches for owners or heirs of unclaimed property.  If they can't be found in a year's time, items are auctioned on eBay and the money goes into the state's general fund where it waits.

    "It's not as if someone ten years from now can't come back and say hey, you sold my Rolex watch, give me the money.  We'll give them the money," said Franchot.

    Franchot says right now, the state is holding more than $900 million for some 800,000 Marylanders.  While the state will attempt to return uncollected property, the onus is on the owners to claim what is theirs.