First Posted: 7/11/2009
RALEIGH An injection of more than $1 million could do wonders for the local economy, but first Surry County citizens, businesses and other governmental units must stake their claims to that cash.
The most recent unclaimed property list from the N.C. Department of the State Treasurer contains 6,702 individual listings for people and entities around the county, although some are duplicates. Altogether, they are owed $1.2 million, from such sources as bank accounts, uncollected wages, insurance policy proceeds and abandoned safe-deposit boxes.
A Mount Airy man who is at the top of the list, due to being owed $23,436, has already collected that figure, according to state Rep. Sarah Stevens of Mount Airy, who made the unclaimed cash list available this week.
The rest of the top-10 listing for Surry County in terms of amounts owed includes two Elkin residents, Eugene G. Brocco and Edna W. Noblott, who have $15,383 coming; John G. and Tonya L. Simpson of Mount Airy, $14,656; Estallene P. Draughn of Elkin, $10,502; Rufus M. Covington of Pilot Mountain, $9,000; James D. Phillips of Elkin, $8,500; Larry R. Draughn of Elkin, $6,723; and Andres C. Gomez of Siloam, who is owed $6,434.
Amounts are included for residents in every corner of the county, along with businesses such as Eagle Carports, and government units including the Surry County Landfill, which is owed $4,710.
It amazes me how many businesses are on there, Stevens said Friday. A scan of the list even revealed The Mount Airy News, which has more than $1,500 in unclaimed cash.
Actually, a few of them have been my clients, Stevens, who is a local attorney, said of names on the list. Her brothers business is there as well, she added.
The local General Assembly member already has contacted some of those included in order to reunite the cash with its rightful owners. But Stevens cant notify everyone due to the vast list that she believes could number as many as 60 pages just for Surry County.
I was simply trying to raise awareness, she said of her efforts concerning the unclaimed money.
Stevens considers trying to get the cash into the hands of constituents part of her responsibility as a legislator, which she said also will benefit the community as a whole. This money, Im hoping, will come back and get into the economy.
Process For Claiming
Many people think they have such control over their finances that they would never imagine being owed funds from the state treasurer. They say, I keep up with all my money and know where my money is, Stevens said of the typical response.
But some people she has contacted were totally unaware that they did have a windfall awaiting, she said.
The treasurers office says the unclaimed property fund has nearly tripled from $255 million to almost $700 million in the past eight years. With 1 million properties in the database and 8 million North Carolinians, there is a one in eight chance that an average citizen has a claim. More than $28 million in unclaimed property has been returned in the past year, according to state officials.
A simple way for one to check the possibility of their name being on the list is to access the Web site of the N.C. Department of the State Treasurer and click on an Unclaimed Property link at the top. Someone can then type in their name or that of a business to determine if money is owed.
But it is amazing the number of people who dont do that, the local legislator said.
The Web site lists a procedure for claiming cash, which includes filling out a form. Those seeking claims of more than $50 are required to have their signatures notarized.
In some cases, such as those involving a deceased persons estate, a court hearing or other legal proceeding might be required to establish a claim to money. Stevens mentioned one case in which a man in Wake County received $75,000 through his dead wife.
Its just been interesting, Stevens said of her research into the unclaimed property list for Surry County, which she pointed out is in everyones best interest to check.
I would encourage anyone to do that.
Contact Tom Joyce at [email protected] or at 719-1924.