Personal Finance

Missouri launches charitable choice program for donating unclaimed property

Missouri has launched a program to give owners of lost and forgotten property an option to donate the proceeds to charity.

Property owners can choose from among 20 charitable organizations, including the American Heart Association, the March of Dimes, the Muscular Dystrophy Association and the Heartland Division of the American Cancer Society.

The state is thought to be the second in the nation to provide this option for account owners. Idaho is the other state.

“This new program was created in response to requests … to donate their unclaimed property,” Missouri Treasurer Clint Zweifel said in a statement.

The treasurer’s office oversees Missouri’s unclaimed property program and holds more than $810 million in assets in 4.7 million accounts. According to the state, $114 million is held in 878,000 accounts for owners in the Kansas City area.

Unclaimed or abandoned property includes uncashed dividend checks, stocks, savings and checking accounts, insurance payouts and contents of safe deposit boxes. The accounts, turned over by banks and other companies, have had no activity for at least one year. It’s the state’s job to protect those assets and find the heirs.

Under the charitable choice option, a person who has been found to legally own the assets can donate as much or as little of the proceeds to any of the approved charitable organizations. The average amount of an asset claim is $300 in Missouri.

Since 2009, the state has returned $176 million in various property to owners.

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