By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
Excited chatter echoed off the walls of the Whitley County Courthouse Community Room Friday.
Hundreds of people came by to try to dig up some treasure “buried” in state coffers.
State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach announced Monday from the Whitley County Fiscal Courtroom that more than $2.7 million from 18,772 properties in Whitley County currently sits in the hands of the state.
On Friday, representatives from Hollenbach’s office joined the state treasurer in the community room to assist residents in starting the “digging” process toward getting those unclaimed properties into the hands of the rightful owners or heirs.
“We have had a great response,” Hollenbach said. “People have been coming in very chipper — this is a great community attitude-wise.”
Several dozen local volunteers gathered to assist in locating people who may be “missing money.”
“We are making a lot of people happy here today,” Hollenbach added.
The volunteers set up along several tables, which were littered with a variety of telephone books as well as lists of people who have money or property in the hands of the state.
Hollenbach said Monday that much of the unclaimed monies are from bank accounts and insurance proceeds. “By state statute (these monies) are reported as abandoned property,” Hollenbach said. “The trick is to find the local owners.”
But he said since he took the reins of state treasurer, there has been more cash returned to families.
“This has been an incredibly successful program,” Hollenbach said. “And we have the numbers to back it up.”
Hollenbach said the traditional route of searching for claimants to this property was “a passive approach.” He said the last eight-year run of the state treasurer brought $48.5 million of unclaimed property to the hands of owners or heirs.
However, he felt Kentucky needed more of a “proactive” approach in finding claimants.
That’s how the Treasure Finders Kentucky program was born.
This program is designed as a collaborative effort between the state, locally-elected officials and much-needed volunteers to help expedite the process of locating claimants to unclaimed property.
Hollenbach said the $48.5 million was a record for the treasurer’s office.
But records can often be broken, and this record was no different. Hollenbach said as of this month, approximately $82 million of the $300 million in the state’s coffers has been returned to its rightful claimants.
But Friday’s event was not a “one-shot” wonder. Hollenbach explained if a resident could not attend Friday, they still will be able to seek help — and there is no statute of limitations on claiming these funds.
County Projects Director Amber Owens, who was one of more than 20 volunteers Friday, will be the on-hand staffer in the county to assist claimants find their monies, according to Judge/Executive Pat White Jr.
According to the www.treasury.ky.gov website, eligible claimants will be helped through the identification process by Unclaimed Property Staff, and successful claims are usually processed in eight to 12 weeks.
For more information or to review the list, visit kytreasury.com or call 800-465-4722. The treasury department does require evidence to claim property. That could include birth or death certificates, proof of residency or evidence of a business relationship with the reporting company. All claims vary and the Unclaimed Property Division staff will determine case by case the evidence needed to process the claim.