Local resident helps others find their forgotten treasures

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:13

    ANDOVER - Like many people, Carl Todt of Andover has a hobby. It's not horseshoes and it's not golf. Instead, he finds money, and plenty of it, for friends and family. In fact, Todt will help anyone who is interested in searching for lost assets. By some estimates, unclaimed property total in the billions of dollars held in each state's treasury just waiting to be claimed. "People don't realize how much money is actually out there being held by the state because folks don't remember they had it, or because companies can no longer locate the beneficiaries," said Todt. The most common causes for unclaimed property are the result of an address change, a name change, or the death of the owner, leaving executors or heirs uninformed that the assets exist. "It seems amazing but people actually forget about assets they've had for years," said Todt. "People leave jobs and have no idea that years later they are entitled to a pension. A simple misspelling of a name or address can result in unclaimed funds." Todt knows how easy it is to lose track of an asset. After the death of his father in the late 1980s, Todt and his mother remembered that his father had owned oil property in Oklahoma. He then began what he referred to as "telephone wars" in an attempt to obtain information about the property. It took months and months to get any useful information before learning that his mother was entitled to royalty interests in the amount of $13,000, which included outstanding interest. Todt has since discovered additional properties owned by his late father. "What took months and even years to uncover through endless phone calls and letter writing, the computer today accomplishes in just hours," Todt says. "I love discovering that someone has money somewhere that they didn't know about. I love to see the look on their faces when I give them the information that I got from the computer by just simply typing their names onto a Web site." Todt discovered a $6,000 pension for a former co-worker who was unaware it existed. His aunt was surprised when Todt found she had a bond interest payment owed to her. Even Todt's own doctors have benefited from his pastime passion and newly acquired computer skills. A former minister from his church was recently informed by Todt that he, too, had unclaimed money waiting for him. "What people need to know is that anyone can do this easily nowadays. You just need access to a computer. You can use the public library computers if you need to and you don't need to be a computer expert," Todt explained. He has shared this information with local nursing homes and other organizations he feels could benefit from knowing that they have access to this information. "Your search should include organizations you have worked for, or have dealings with, since a large portion of these unclaimed funds are in certain names as a result of mergers, acquisitions, name changes, etc.," he said. According to another Web site dedicated to similar searches, each state has its own laws which specify when property is considered abandoned, which is typically after three to five years of being "unclaimed." At that time, banks, brokerage firms and insurance companies are required to turn these unclaimed assets over to the state of the property owner's last known address. If no address can be found, the property is then sent to the state in which the business is incorporated. Unclaimed property can be uncashed checks, utility and security deposits, bank accounts, insurance payments, safe deposit contents, stock certificates, dividends and bond payment, oil and gas royalty payments, uncashed money orders, cashiers and travelers checks, dormant certificates of deposits and uncashed death benefit checks and life insurance proceeds. Todt encourages those interested to access their information through a Web site such as governmentguide.com, naupa.org or missingmoney.com. According to Todt, the more information you have before you launch your search the better your results will be. He suggests having as much information as you can regarding maiden and multiple names, dual addresses, middle initials, and correct spelling of names and all addresses, past and most recent. And he says if at first you don't succeed, try again.