Can A City Be Entitled to Unclaimed Money? You Bet and After 7 Months of Disbelief, the City of North Tonawanda, NY, Receives $70,000 in Unclaimed Funds from the California Controller Held Since 2007.


In over twenty years of searching for beneficiaries to unclaimed money and lost property, we find that it is not only individuals who benefit, but just about any entity can, such as corporations, L.L.C.s, partnerships, non-profits, charities, churches, and, surprisingly, even some of the nation’s cities.  But as with disbelieving individuals, we must overcover city officials skeptism and incredulity that out there, somewhere, their city is entitled to unclaimed money and lost property.

For instance, in March of this year, we uncovered a probate case in which, some thirty years ago, a decedent left a significant sum to the city of her birth.  After the passage of six months,the city has still not executed the paperwork necessary to claim its money.

Having vast experience in dealing with governmental agencies, we simply accept the fact that bureaucratic movement will be glacial. But, still, the wait can be taxing, and throughout the tedious review process we must constantly remind ourselves that Heir Hunters International is not a fly by night operation, but in it for the long haul.

After our discovery, believing the best place to start is at the top, in early June we approached the Mayor’s Office. It took nearly six weeks before the city finally settled on which department would even consider our paperwork, that being the City Attorney’s Office.

Initially dubious, the Assistant City Attorney assigned to the case questioned whether the funds were simply owed by a city debtor, and, if they were, the city already had a law firm on retainer to handle collection matters.  We told her the source of the unclaimed money was not, but, was, we revealed, a legacy left to the city in a probate matter.  And, with that, the city review process began.

Every other month or so, we contact the City Attorney’s office for a status report, and, each time in a friendly response, “Your matter,” the city’s representative assures, “is being considered.”

That said, with the passing of each week, we grow concerned our efforts will eventually fall into a pothole and the unclaimed funds forgotten.   But, a November 8 post on “” caught our attention, and reminded us that we are dealing with a very large metropolitan city with thousands of more pressing concerns.  In the article, “City Received Unclaimed Funds, Finalizes 2014 Budget,” Rikki Cason reported that in late October the City of North Tonawanda, NY, received a $70,000.00 check representing unclaimed money.   In early May, Ms. Cason explained, the office of the California Controller notified city officials that since 2007 it held $70,000.00 in unclaimed funds for its benefit. In spite of what one could consider an unimpeachable source, city personnel spent nearly seven months investigating whether, in fact, it might all be a scam.  Finally satisfied the source of the funds was legitimate, the city completed the Controller’s required paperwork necessary to receive the funds.

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Like the City of North Tonawanda, our city is finalizing its 2014 operating budget, and, although it will not completely pay for filling every pothole, it will certainly add to the city coffers.

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