Remembering the Lost

Unclaimed Property
May 19 2015

By Regina Higginbotham, Unclaimed Property Division

 

Many people view Memorial Day as the start of summer even though June 21st is the “official” date. It is not only a time for picnics, barbeques and beach trips but also a time for remembering those soldiers who have died while in military service. The real reason for this holiday often gets lost in our rush to kick-off the season and begin our vacation.

Working in the Unclaimed Property Division of the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office has given me another reason to think about those who have served. Over the years the safe deposit area has received several boxes containing Military Items. Sometimes it is discharge papers or name tags but there are also Purple Hearts, newspaper clippings, ribbons and many other types of medals. Items recently received dated as far back as 1919 and others were from the early 1940’s.

It is hard to believe that something that once meant so much would end up locked away in a vault in the possession of the State Treasurer’s Office. The West Virginia Unclaimed Property Law considers a safe deposit box abandoned if the property has remained unclaimed by the owner for more than five years. Property can be considered unclaimed due to nonpayment of box rent or if the owner has not communicated with the bank in writing or otherwise, such as recently accessing the box.

Once a year banks across the state are required to deliver escheatable contents to the Treasurer’s Office. The items are inventoried and detailed information is logged into the unclaimed property system. After the files are locked and balanced, owner names are advertised in a newspaper insert and listed in a database on our website in hopes that the rightful person will come forward to claim his/her belongings. If the owner does not come forward, normal safe deposit box contents are then auctioned and the proceeds from the sale are held indefinitely for the rightful owner or his heirs. Military contents however, are never auctioned but are instead donated to the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs or the West Virginia Division of Archives and History.

Want to see some of the items that do go on the auction block? Check our online auction regularly to see what is currently available.  

 

 

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West Virginia State Treasurer's Office
1900 Kanawha Boulevard
Capitol Complex Building #1, Room E-145
Charleston, West Virginia 25305
304-558-5000 Toll Free: 800-422-7498

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