FAQS

GENERAL

Q: If I find property on your website, why won't you tell me the specific value of the property over the telephone?
We take our obligation to safeguard your personal information very seriously. Due to concerns for your privacy, we do not release specific information regarding your property until a claim form has been received or we have received another form of written communication from you.
Q: What is unclaimed property?
Unclaimed property is money or assets that have been separated from their owner for at least five years. Often, the owner doesn't know the property exists. Examples include:
• inactive savings and checking accounts
• unpaid wages or commissions
• stocks, bonds and mutual funds
• money orders and bill overpayments
• paid-up life insurance policies
• safe deposit box contents
Q: Why does unclaimed property end up at the Treasurer's Office?
People lose track of their assets when they move homes or loved ones die. Businesses and banks are required by law to turn over the unclaimed accounts to the state so they can be returned to their rightful owners.
Q: How do I find out if I have unclaimed property?
Search your name on our online I-Cash database, which is updated several times a year. Also, by law the Treasurer's Office must publish the names of new owners twice a year in local newspapers. As part of our ongoing owner outreach efforts, you may even receive a letter and a claim form directly from the Treasurer informing you that you have unclaimed property.
Q: What should I do if I find my name on the database?
Print out a claim form and mail it to our Unclaimed Property Division. To expedite service, please carefully follow the instructions attached to the claim form, and submit the requested documentation along with your completed claim form.
Q: Why has there been more money returned?
One reason for the increase in the amount of money and number of people owed unclaimed property has been the demutualization of several large life insurance companies - including Prudential, John Hancock and Metlife - that have paid out policyholders in cash or common stock. In the 1940s and 50s, many low- and moderate-income Illinoisans bought inexpensive life insurance policies from door-to-door salesmen, never realizing that doing so made them shareholders of the company. In many cases, policy owners have been difficult to track down and the funds have ended up as unclaimed property. Now, decades later, they and their heirs can claim the residual value.
Q: Does the State ever take ownership of unclaimed property?
No. The State of Illinois serves as a custodian of the assets and never takes ownership of them. Generations from now, a family member could claim your property with the right paperwork.
Q: What attempts does your office make to find owners?
Twice each year the Treasurer's office publishes all new names added to the Unclaimed Property list with property either in excess of $100 or in the form of stock/mutual funds shares, or safe keeping contents. Our website is frequently updated with the names of new owners at the same time removing the names of those individuals who are in the process of claiming their assets. Outreach events are held across the state on a continual basis in an effort to locate owners. We also have recently started a new initiative where we contact unclaimed property owners directly via U.S. mail and attempt to initiate a claim for them.
Q: Do you auction off unclaimed property?
Yes. Each year, the Treasurer's Office receives the contents of safe deposit boxes that have been inactive for five years. The names of the owners of the safe deposit box contents are published beforehand. If the owners or their heirs do not come forward to claim the contents, we may sell the items and hold the proceeds for the rightful owner. Auction items include jewelry, coins, stamps and other collectibles.
Q: Are there any items you do not sell at auction?
Medals earned in military service and combat are not sold at auction. We seek to return these items to a rightful owner or heir. To display our medals and informational materials at your functions, please go to Military Medals.
Q: I have not heard from your office in a while, what should I do?
Typically, all claims are reviewed in the date order received by our office. Processing time prior to receiving either your first communication or payment may be up to 12 weeks, dependent on the number of claims submitted to our office during the time frame your claim was received.
Q: What does it mean when your search page indicates a '?' in the Amount column?
When the"'?" appears, this is an indication the asset being held is either securities, such as stock or mutual funds, or the contents of a safe deposit box.

OWNERS

Q: I am claiming safe deposit box property. Will my property still be sold at auction?
No. Once a claim has been initiated on any property, the property is no longer eligible to be sold. If it is determined the claimant was not the rightful owner, the property is once again eligible for sale.
Q: My claim has been approved, when will I receive my safe deposit box property?
Contents of safe deposit boxes are typically mailed to the claimant within 2 weeks of your claim being finalized. Contents are returned certified mail.
Q: What do you mean by "documentation of my social security number"?
Documentation would be a copy of a document showing both your name and your social security number, e.g. social security card, W2, or 1099.
Q: What is considered proper evidence to verify my age?
Your age may be verified by either a copy of a state issued identification (driver's license) showing date of birth or a copy of your birth certificate.
Q: What is considered proper evidence to verify an old address?
This could be any document which shows both your name and the previous address. Examples would be: envelopes showing an USPS cancellation, school records, or birth certificates.

HEIRS

Q: What does it mean when you ask if the estate was probated?
Probate means the decedent's estate was overseen by a court of law.
Q: Where can I obtain a certified copy of a will?
A certified copy of a will may be obtained at the county court house where the will was originally filed.
Q: What is a certified copy?
A certified copy must show the court stamp which indicates the will is the final will on file for an individual.
Q: Where can I obtain a death certificate?
Death certificates may be obtained at the county court house in the county which death occurred.
Q: How long are Letters of Office in effect?
Letters of Office are in effect until an estate has been closed. Our office asks that if the Letters of Office show a date older than three years, a current copy be obtained and submitted.
Q: Why do I have to establish my relationship to the property owner?
Under the Illinois Probate Act, in the absence of a will, an individual's estate is divided among family members. Relationship documentation is needed to determine the decedent's family members.

HOLDERS

Q: Do we turn over firearms found in safe deposit boxes to your office?
Yes, contact our office and arrangements will be made to pick up the firearms.
Q: Safe deposit boxes may contain currency. Do we send the currency or write a check for the total amount?
It is required the actual currency be remitted to our office. We then determine whether the currency may be deposited or if it has numismatic value and should be retained for future return to the owner.
Q: How do we deliver safe deposit box property to the Treasurer's office?
You may use any qualified delivery service that requires a signed receipt.
Q: When are we required to send our safe deposit box property to the Treasurer's Office?
Our office will notify you when it is time to deliver the property being held at your business.
Q: What should we do if property is claimed by an owner prior to delivery to your office?
Notify our office by letter stating the customer has claimed their property directly from you. This allows us to update our records.
Q: Is there a program for companies who should have reported property but did not?
Yes, Voluntary Disclosure Agreement (VDA). Visit our Returning Assets page for further information on this program.

BUSINESS

Q: What is sufficient documentation of "authority to act"?
Examples of documentation showing authority to act on behalf of a business would be: business card showing both company and personal name or copy of Secretary of State filing listing corporate officers.