It’s called the ‘Franchot Zone.’
Annapolis, Md (KM). The Maryland Comptroller’s Office is informing the public about the unclaimed property the state is holding by using the theme from a classic TV show. But instead of entering “The Twilight Zone,:” you can enter the “Franchot Zone,” which is a cache of possessions and cash whose owners can’t be tracked down. This unclaimed property includes abandoned bank accounts and insurance policies, stocks and bonds, and the contents of safe deposit boxes.
“People have moved away. They haven’t left addresses,” says Comptroller Peter Franchot. “There are life insurance premiums that the families don’t realize are available.”
Under the law, private sector companies, like banks and insurance companies, must notify the Comptroller’s Office about any property that has gone unclaimed or without activity for more than three years. “I’m currently holding $1-and-a-half billion dollars,” says Franchot.
Recently, the Comptroller’s Office placed inserts in the Frederick News-Post and other newspapers around the state listing all of the unclaimed property it’s holding, and who its owners may be. Franchot says if you see you or your family members’ names on the list, you’re asked to contact the agency by going on line to www.marylandtaxes.com, and enter you name in the database.
Franchot says the amounts unclaimed could be a lot of money or just a little. But, he says, it’s your money. “Sometimes it’s only $25 or $50 in a health care payment that they couldn’t find the right person and got returned to the health care company. But hey! 50-bucks! I’ll take that! Tax free, too,” he says.
Even if a family member has passed away, Franchot you may be the rightful heir to their money. And don’t hesitate to check, even if you believe your parents, grandparents, great aunts and uncles were not very rich. “They may have had a life insurance policy that they may have forgotten about. And it may only be only $10,000. Hello! $10,000,” he says.
The Comptroller’s Office says it has had success in returning unclaimed property to its rightful owners. “We return on average about $50-million a year to Maryland citizens. But we get about $75-million in new accounts delivered to us,” says Franchot.
For more information, you can go on line to www.marylandtaxes.com, or call the Comptroller’s Office at 1-800-782-7388.
By Kevin McManus