KENNEDY: Don’t Forget To Search For Unclaimed Property

As hard as it is to believe, another Christmas is upon us. It’s a joyous time, but it’s also expensive – especially if you have kids. I’m not sure what a Hatchimal is; I do know it will set Santa back quite a few dollars if your kid wants one under the tree this year.

The holidays cause us to empty our wallets and run up our credit card bills. If you’re trying to figure out how to pay the bill collector, run your name through our Unclaimed Property search engine. You have better odds of finding money there than you do of winning the lottery.

Since I became State Treasurer 16 years ago, we’ve returned $315 million in Unclaimed Property to Louisiana citizens and businesses. We’ve collected $860 million in Unclaimed Property during that same timeframe.

Unclaimed Property isn’t land. It’s money. When businesses can’t find you, they send the money to us. We hold onto it until you claim it. We get life insurance proceeds, utility deposits, old bank accounts, stocks, dividends, savings bonds and more. The only thing we don’t get is your great aunt’s jewelry.

I’ve returned money to celebrities like Archie Manning and John Goodman. I’ve also returned money to ordinary citizens who really needed the cash. It’s the stories of the ordinary citizens that will stay with me.

Years ago, we got in a life insurance policy for a young widow in north Louisiana. Her husband had died, leaving her with small children to rear. She didn’t know he’d also left her $500,000 in life insurance proceeds until we tracked her down.

Earlier this year, we returned more than $2 million in Unclaimed Property to a 96-year-old woman in the New Orleans area. That money will be used to ensure that she has around-the-clock care for the rest of her life.

Now I don’t have $2 million or even $500,000 for everyone in Louisiana. The average refund is about $900.

Just last week, I sent a check for $12,500 to the Jefferson SPCA. This organization, which supports the Jefferson Parish Animal Shelter’s two locations, lost track of stocks and dividends following Hurricane Katrina. The money we returned to the SPCA will be used to treat animals for heartworms and other medical issues. The treatment is expensive, and this will give the animals a better chance of being adopted. As an animal lover, I couldn’t be more thrilled at that outcome.

Unclaimed Property is a terrific program, and there are no strings attached. It’s absolutely free to claim this money. All we care about is whether the money belongs to you.

Visit our website at www.latreasury.com or give us a call at 1-888-925-4127. You might just find enough money to buy a Hatchimal.

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