I've never been asked to hold onto some money or valuables for anyone at any time, so it's got to be a somewhat strange feeling for Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs to know that he's holding over $5 billion for Illinois residents who may not even know about it.

There has been no shortage over the years of elected officials in Illinois holding onto cash that wasn't theirs, with probably the most notable being former Illinois Secretary of State Paul Powell, who, when he died in 1970, was found to have over $800,000 hidden in shoeboxes in his closet. 

Mr. Powell's Illinois government salary never crossed the $30,000 mark, but somehow he was able to collect nearly five and a half million dollars for himself.

Illinois State Treasurer Michael Frerichs is not doing anything like that. As a matter of fact, he'll feel better if the rightful owners of money and property his office is holding would just come and collect it.

Getty Images
Getty Images
Bank vaulted door with safety deposit boxes.
Getty Images

If You've Ever Wondered Whether It Was Worth Taking Time To Explore The Illinois State Treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Page, You've Got Several Billion Reasons That The Answer Is A Definite Yes

Not that all of us are going to get lucky. I've combed the website and have yet to find any evidence that anyone in my family had the decency to leave behind a pile of cash and/or jewels in a cobweb covered deposit box for me to find later and enjoy. Apparently, they thought they were supposed to keep their stuff for themselves. Typical.

I've been reading through a list of things that have been returned to their rightful owners here in Illinois, and a couple of the items are pretty interesting.

  • There's the $19,000 that's going to the Pryor (as in Richard Pryor) Foundation for the Carver Community Center in Peoria. Richard Pryor spoke several times about spending time at the Carver Community Center when he was a kid growing up in Peoria.
  • There's also the $2 million left by a World War II veteran who never married, and whose relatives all died before he did. That money sat unnoticed in an investment account, but is now going to several Chicago-area charities that the man supported.

According to WGNTV.com, about 25 percent of Illinoisans who take a look through the State Treasurer's unclaimed property page find something that belongs to them, and the average claim is $1,000.

Click here to check and see if there's something in the State Treasurer's vaults that has your name written on it.

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