1 In 4 Arkansans Have Unclaimed Property. Here’s A Look In The Vault

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — There is a good chance you have money or heirlooms owed to you that you do not know about. They might have been yours to begin with, or they might have belonged to a grandparent, but until you ask for them, they belong to the state, and it might sell off your prized possessions soon.

“We figure about one in four Arkansans have unclaimed property,” Andrea Lea, auditor for the State of Arkansas, said. “We have north of $270 million.”

The State Auditor’s Office runs Arkansas’s unclaimed property program. Its assets come from bank accounts that had gone dormant, apartment deposits that renters forgot to pick up when they moved, and all the items from safe deposit boxes that owners stop paying for.

“What’s the number one reason why someone hasn’t paid on their safe deposit box in five years? They’ve probably passed away or they’ve moved to another state,” Lea explained. If you have a safe deposit box, please tell a family member. Put it in your will, tell your attorney. Something. I would much rather the box go to your family than get turned over to the state.”

Inside the vaults of the State Auditor’s Office in downtown Little Rock’s Victory Building are some amazing items. “I think the World War II love letters are some of my favorite,” Lea mentioned. “They were beautiful letters, written from 1942, written from a Marine to his girlfriend back here in Arkansas. And she kept the letters in a vault. Unfortunately, we have not been able to find her or a family member. But the letters are just really sweet. Just, really sweet.”

The vaults contain pieces of vintage jewelry, autographed baseballs, and a record with a greeting sent home during the Second World War, among other items. They also, however, contain human teeth, Gumby dolls, and other unusual keepsakes.

“We had a body in there,” Lea recalled. “The cremains of… someone’s ashes. And we found the owners. The man was not married and did not have children, and so we found a niece and a nephew, and neither of them wanted to claim. And we can’t force them to claim it.”

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.