State Santa’s Agency Returns Millions to Nebraskanians Downstairs Young and Old

That’s a lot of money from an insurance policy. It is the bargaining chip for a bank error. It’s the treasure inside Grandma June’s abandoned safe.

Each state has a system for collecting and dispersing property owed to its citizens, required by consumer protection laws. Companies and banks report and transfer dropped funds, and Aguirre’s office publishes a list of lucky winners online and in 16 of the state’s largest newspapers.

Every county is represented in the 2022 full-size that landed on the doorstep of Omaha in Scottsbluff last spring. In Douglas county, 10 pages and thousands of names; in Arthur County, population 439, only one potential beneficiary. (Mr. Cone, if you’re there, the treasurer’s office has your money.)

Alongside the names of all these people, in very small print, are auto repair shops, bakeries, jewelry stores, cooperatives, hair salons, political campaigns, volunteer firefighters, non-profit organizations and companies.

The Shamrock Cattle Market. The Nebraska Trucking Association. The woman with the same name as my sister, who is (unfortunately) not my sister.

There’s Pete Ricketts for Governor Inc. There’s the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce.

There’s my best friend Susan, who now has a $60 check coming her way and rewards me with a coffee date.

Unclaimed property is the Santa of state agencies. It does not increase your taxes and does not bother you to register your car.

It’s not the Powerball, but the chances of winning are much better.

The math: one in five Nebraskas.

Median payout: $95

“If you don’t have any unclaimed property, you probably know someone who does,” Aguirre says. “It’s your money; we are only the guardian.

Aguirre is in charge of seven employees in Lincoln and Omaha who verify claims, detect fraud, unearth heirs using databases and leather shoes, and share good news with postcards and letters to do. not throw away.

“If you get something from us,” Aguirre says, “it’s legit.”

The office has a much better success rate than Husker Football: 75% if they have a Cornhusker resident and a social security number their staff can work with.

This year, the Nebraskans have already been reunited with nearly $13 million, thanks to a $5 million investment account flagged as inactive by TD Ameritrade. (Turns out the owner knew he had it, but he hadn’t handled it in years and moved away, leaving potentially important letters from Ameritrade unanswered.)

It takes a payment of $50 to make the printed version. The division’s online database — nebraskalostcash.gov — starts at $15. The Couch Cushion ($14.99 and under) category does not appear, but remains in the system until it can be added to a larger pot of money from a future accounting error or of a misplaced legacy from Great Uncle Al, who has always loved you the most.

Once you and your property make the list, you stay there for all eternity. Or until you, or an heir, finally claim what’s yours.

Right now, $200 million of our dollars are waiting.

Go ahead, Nebraska.

***

The Lincoln man was getting $65,000.

But he didn’t seem to care.

He ignored letters from the treasurer’s office.

He ignored phone calls.

“I couldn’t get it claimed, I couldn’t get it claimed,” said unclaimed property research specialist Mary Jones.

For 18 months, she kept calling. She put it on her calendar. Every Thursday, the manager of the man’s office said the same thing: she would relay the message.

What did Jones hear back? Crickets.

Then she noticed something new when switching to the Internet: the man and his wife were no longer registering vehicles together. The woman had a new address in Arizona.

“I was like, ‘Okay. I bet he’s ready to get the money now.

The newly divorced man was. “He finally filled out the paperwork and submitted the application.”

Jones is now working on another reluctant recipient. An Omaha man with $19,000 and change due to him, and a safe containing three silver bars.

“I tried to get him to come for years. It’s just not a priority for him. »

These are the outliers, says Jones. Most people – when they find out that Postcards and Letters aren’t a scam – are happy to find money they didn’t know they had lost.

Like the family who received $336,000 in life insurance benefits and investments after her mother died. “They were totally unaware of the existence of these funds.”

And the adult children who carried their mother’s casket in the back of a van to the morgue, but were able to pay her funeral expenses when a claim arose with their father’s name on it.

Jones loves his job – equal parts detective, clipboard and fairy godmother.

It’s the people, she said. Someone with a new baby or a shitty car, happy to hear they have money to make.

It was the Plattsmouth man who called last week to verify his claim – the proceeds of a forgotten life insurance policy.

“He thanked us and said the check would arrive in time to pay for his new dentures.”

***

Al Hagemeier had been on the list for years. “Someone told me they saw me there once, but the paperwork seemed too complicated.”

This year, with a little prompting from a Flatwater Free Press freelancer, the Garfield County retiree tried again. He made a phone call. Answered a few questions. He learned his name was on the list more than once, his wife Donita said. Verification was easy as pie.

After signing the papers, Hagemeier will get enough moola for a new tractor blade. “He’s pretty excited.”

Marcie Young was pretty excited when she found herself on the list several years ago.

“It was about $1,000,” Lincoln’s financial adviser said. “I was thunderstruck.”

She had forgotten that she had once had a credit card that deposited a percentage of purchases into a university fund. She spent her unexpected treasure, but not on her daughter’s school fees. “She didn’t end up going to college.”

Katherine Endacott made money in the 1970s after discovering that a high school friend’s father had bought a racehorse and put his name on the title. Both horse and father are dead — and Endacott’s share made its way from Kentucky to Nebraska’s unclaimed property division.

“I didn’t get rich,” Pleasant Dale’s wife said. “But it makes for a good cocktail story.”

The 2022 party includes: Chris Dinan, who landed $286 on an unclaimed 2014 paycheck from Arby’s. Tina Dykes, owed $342 for a dental overpayment.

Monica Kruger, pending $20.44 of unclaimed refund. Her daughter will soon be $102 richer. “From the Y, where she was a lifeguard.”

Kruger also discovered his mother-in-law, brother-in-law and a pair of friends in the online database.

“And I told them to check too.”

Julie Cook did her part of checking. Years ago, the Lincoln woman started scrolling through the list, looking for her name (never there). She was looking for friends, relatives, clients of her cleaning business. Foreigners.

At the time, the telephone book could serve as a detection tool.

“I called when I had a few extra minutes. I told them my name and that it was a hobby. They all seemed pleasantly surprised.

Once an older man discovered that he had to pay for insurance.

If I get a million dollars, I’ll look for you, he said.

***

Since the division was created by state law in 1969, it has united Nebraskanians with $240 million. Several million arrive electronically each year – most in November, when companies report. Then it returns to the Nebraskanians who claim it, a revolving door of funds that never comes to anything.

Each October, the department deposits most of what remains in the coffers into the Nebraska Continuing Schools Fund, which funds the “support and upkeep” of public schools. He has deposited an average of $12 million over the past four years.

And the cycle begins again.

“We always receive more than we transfer,” Aguirre said.

Including my 60 cents.

It’s fate?

If I really really want it – if I insist – I can have it, manager Aguirre said.

But…

“We would spend more to send you this payment than it is worth.”

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