Thursday, January 18, 2007


I think it was GOOD MORNING AMERICA, although I could not swear to it in a court of law. It could have been TODAY. And I did not actually make the money – it belongs to my father. But I got it for him!

Here’s the story:

One morning last June, during a segment on “found money”, I learned about the “unclaimed property” fund maintained by each of the 50 states.

On the NJ Division of Taxation website I found a link to “Unclaimed Property” in the “index” which eventually took me to an “Unclaimed Property Search”. I did a search for my last name and found results for Robert Flach (it turned out to be my father and not me) and Theodore Flach (my father’s brother, who had gone to his final audit in January of 1991).

I submitted two Unclaimed Property Claim Inquiry Forms, one for my father and one for my uncle. The instructions requested that the following information be included with the inquiry form -

· clear copy of a driver’s license or other legal photo identification (i.e. a Passport),
· proof of Social Security number,
· documentation of any name change (if different from the listing on the search results page), and
· proof of the original owner’s address as listed on the search results page.

Documents that could be used to prove the address or name relationship include –

· auto registration
· marriage certificate
· utility statement
· bank statement
· court documents
· medical card
· insurance policy
· birth certificate
· divorce decree
· canceled check
· income tax return
· expired driver’s license, or
· W-2 form

My father did not have a photo id – both his driver’s license and passport had expired and were not renewed, and the expired documents had been disposed of. I did include a copy of his Social Security card, Vehicle Registration card, the 2003 Form SSA-1099-SM (the annual statement indicating his Social Security benefits for the year), and a brokerage account statement from a year when he lived at the address on the results page (he had since moved).

In the case of my uncle, my father, who was a co-Executor with a bank and the sole beneficiary of the will, had thrown away all the paperwork related to the estate, as it had been settled fifteen years ago. I had in my files a copy of an original Surrogate Court form that indicated my father was an Executor, a copy of the will, and a copy of the obituary, which I included with the inquiry form.

Within a month I received a response to the inquiry for Robert Flach that included an Unclaimed Property Declaration/Release and Indemnification Agreement and a listing of the “unclaimed property”, which consisted of shares of stock of Met Life, a result of the insurance company’s “demutualization”, and resulting dividends. The cover letter requested that I submit a completed, signed and notarized Declaration/Agreement, a copy of a driver’s license or other federal or state-issued identification card and verification of the Social Security number.

The only applicable identification my father had was his Medicare card. The cover letter had indicated the name and email address of the person in Trenton who was assigned to the claim, so I emailed to explain that my father had no photo id form and asked if the Medicare card would be acceptable. A prompt return email said that it would.

The claim application package for my father was sent and in about 4 weeks a check arrived for close to $2,200! The shares of MetLife stock had been liquidated by the state and he got the cash plus the unclaimed dividends and some interest.

Tomorrow the rest of the story.


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