You know that feeling when you are washing clothes and you find that you had a $20 bill in your pants pocket? It’s your money — but finding it when you forgot about it is a great feeling! It’s the next best thing to hitting the lottery.
Now imagine finding $50, or $100, or even $1000! Thanks to the state of Illinois — you just might.
Money — for all types of various reasons — goes unclaimed by its owners every year. The treasure for the state of Illinois currently is holding 2.9 billion dollars in unclaimed funds. Typically, these are funds that their owners either forgot existed or didn’t know was coming to them — for example, a death benefit from a life insurance policy of which the beneficiary was unaware.
Database and modern technology makes reclaiming funds easier than ever
For years, the state of Illinois has provided an online database of these funds that potential owners could search to be matched up to any missing or unknown funds. Recently, proving that those funds actually belong to the rightful owner has become an even easier process. Now, the state, with the use of contact information and social security numbers, can often identify the proper owners without them necessarily having to provide a large number of documents as proof.
Once a match has been made and ownership has been proven and established, the beneficiaries of those funds can receive their money very quickly — often in less than a couple of weeks! And this service is provided at no cost to the person claiming the money.
It doesn’t hurt to check
Even if you don’t think you are owed any money, it doesn’t hurt to check. It’s done completely anonymously — no one knows you are looking for lost funds. And the website is secure.
If you have a unique last name, you might find just searching that name will turn up information not only on yourself, but also on relatives to whose estate you might be an heir. But if it’s a more common surname, you’ll get a lot of returns — perhaps to many to read through and check. So if you have a name like Smith or Jones, it might be a better idea to search your full name.
It’s also a good idea to search not only of your own name, but also the names of people in your family that have passed away, especially if you know that you are an heir to their estate. You might have thought that your deceased relative was very organized and remembered all documents in regards to his or her estate. But you’d be surprised to what important information might have gotten passed them: old bank accounts they thought they had closed, life insurance policies they forgot that had through old employers, stocks and dividends placed into a trust for a minor. The list of examples goes on and on.
How to learn more
To get started, go to this link: https://icash.illinoistreasurer.gov/. There’s a simple box on the left that you can use to search for unclaimed funds for yourself, a business you owned, or for someone you love. The amounts could be a few dollars, or it can be over $100 or $1000. The website will tell you the source of the funds, to whom they originally belonged, and a rough idea of how much money is available (over $100 or under $100, for example, but not an exact amount). Once you successfully make the claim, you’ll get a receipt that tells you exactly how much unclaimed funds will be coming your way.
Here is a link to stories of people who found and reclaimed large amounts of lost cash (one gentleman claimed $7,000 in death benefits): https://icash.illinoistreasurer.gov/app/success-stories
Remember: It’s YOUR money
Just like that $20 bill you found in your pants pocket, this unclaimed money is YOUR money. The state will sit on it forever until it is claimed. If you are an owner to these funds, you have a right to them! Don’t be afraid to find out if they exist — and if so, claim them as your own.