Unclaimed property surprises some, not others





Judy Tate picked up more than flowers when she stopped into Wharton's For Every Bloomin' Thing on Friday afternoon.

By coincidence, Tate happened to be at the store when The Telegram was talking to Debbie Wharton about her mother-in-law's name being included on a list of unclaimed property issued by the Kansas State Treasurer's Office.

Tate learned that her father's name is also on the list.

"Un-believable! What are the odds? I'm going to Porter's next, if you find me on another list," she said.

"There are days it's a little spooky around here," Debbie Wharton said.

"I think I'm gonna come every day," Tate said, jokingly.

Kansas State Treasurer Ron Estes recently sent out a press release highlighting Finney County and Garden City in a "Treasurer's Top 10" list of local people who have unclaimed assets with the state.

Names on the list include: Helen Lange and Eva Jean Vachal; Arthur R. Drussel; Gene B. Frick; Carol L. McGregor; Donna E. Brown; Clarence J. Gigot; Laverne Michael Burghardt; Dana G. Lewis; Eleanor Sarah Wharton; and Joan Lohmann.

Tate's father, Laverne Burgardt, who died about 10 years ago, is on the list, though the last name is misspelled as Burghardt. She was completely stunned about the news.

"I am. I messed up my check," she said, gesturing to her checkbook. "I don't know what to do here. Usually, I'm not at a loss for words."

Tate said her dad was a grain inspector and state employee, but she has no idea what assets of his might have gone unclaimed.

"I'm sure he didn't even know about it, or had forgotten about it," Tate said. "I mean, who knows?"

The state treasurer's office website allows anyone to enter a name and conduct a search, but a dollar amount is not included in the results. Searches do provide a general category, however. For Laverne Burgardt, the property type indicates funds for liquid/redemption of un-surrendered stocks/bonds.

Others contacted about the state listing were not nearly as surprised.

Wharton said she and her husband, George, have long been aware of their unclaimed property.

"It's George's mom," she said. "I have filled out papers, and I've got more balls in the air than I can shake a stick at. They make it that you have to have death certificates. You have to have all kinds of stuff."

Wharton said she has five different sets of paper work and is so busy she just hasn't had time to pursue it. Eleanor died in 1991, she said. Every year, the Whartons invariably get a phone call from someone who has seen the Wharton name at the state treasurer's booth at the state fair.

"One of these days, when I have, time I'll get them done. Some of them my husband has to fill out. Some of them my father-in-law had to fill out. He died three years ago, and we still don't have his stuff finished," she said about her father-in-law, Jim.

Eva Vachal, a Garden City doctor, also was aware she has unclaimed property with the state.

"I just haven't had time to do anything about it. There's so much red tape involved," she said. "I just haven't had an opportunity to get it done. If the economy was good, and I thought it could earn some interest, I'd be more eager to get it out of there. I figure it's in a safe place, so I haven't worried about it that much."

Currently, more than $268 million in unclaimed assets is held by the state treasurer's office. The money comes from forgotten bank accounts, stocks, bonds, insurance premium overpayments, refunds, abandoned safe deposit boxes and other property.

The state has a website, www.kansascash.com, that allows people to search their names and make claims, and a toll free phone number, (800) 432-0386, to speak to a member of the Unclaimed Property Division.

The online search doesn't indicate how much money a person may have coming to them, but it does indicate the type of property being held and provides instructions on how to file a claim and verification.

"It is my ongoing goal to locate as many rightful owners and heirs as possible," Estes said in his press release. "Every dollar returned is another dollar filtered back into local communities, which is great for all of Kansas. I encourage everyone to search for their name, along with names of friends and family."

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