Maryland: An idyllic land of mountains, beaches, large cities and small towns. It’s the natural habitat of orioles, ravens and terrapins. It’s a state where children can enjoy life in full measure over a long summer, while mom and dad savor a cold Maryland beer at day’s end. This modern-day Shangri-La on the Chesapeake couldn’t get any better, but many of its inhabitants stand poised to prosper from a most fortunate occurrence. In the modern-day vernacular, they are about to get free stuff.
Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot is laboring at this very moment to reunite these good people with property – their property – that has been misplaced or lost over the course of time.
“This couldn’t happen, you say? To the contrary,” said Comptroller Franchot. “It’s happening right here, right now, in Maryland… in The Franchot Zone.”
The Franchot Zone (or Unclaimed Property cache) is full of possessions and financial payoffs that banks, insurance companies and financial institutions were unable to return to the rightful owners. Any of the goods not claimed by their owners eventually go to the state.
Franchot will be your guide this year into this place of old bank accounts, stocks and bonds, jewelry and other contents of safe deposit boxes. The Franchot Zone has belongings of value – be they monetary, sentimental or a little of both – that will be returned to their rightful claimants. Are you one of the lucky few?
Franchot urges Marylanders to read the list, available online at www.marylandtaxes.com and also published as an insert to more than 30 newspapers statewide. It only takes a minute to check for your name alphabetically.
The Comptroller appears on the cover of the 192-page insert that will begin appearing in some newspapers today. You can also look for a new video today on the Comptroller’s YouTube page. In previous years, Comptroller Franchot appeared as “Sheriff Franchot,” “Sherlock Franchot,” and “The Most Interesting Man in Maryland.”
Along with the Unclaimed Property list, which is published annually as required by law, the Comptroller’s Office searches tax records and Motor Vehicle Administration files to try and locate property owners. The agency also has a booth at the Maryland State Fair, and other events throughout the year, to allow people to check the Unclaimed Property database.
Marylanders can also check to see if their name is on the Unclaimed Property list through the Comptroller’s website. Here’s how:
- Go to marylandtaxes.com
- Enter your name in the agency’s database
- Claim your property
Financial institutions, insurance companies and corporations are required to notify the Comptroller’s Office of any property that has gone unclaimed, or without activity, for more than three years. This is usually wages, bank accounts, stocks or dividends, life insurance policies or from safe deposit boxes.
When the Comptroller’s Office receives property that isn’t monetary, as required by state law, the items are appraised and then auctioned off on eBay (www.ebay.com/usr/mdcompfranchot). The proceeds are held for the owner in perpetuity. Funds are available to be claimed at any time, with no statute of limitations and are not subject to taxes.
Franchot urges anyone who finds his or her name on the list to contact his office at 410-767-1700 (Central Maryland), or toll-free at 1-800-782-7383, to find out how to reclaim their lost property.
The Comptroller’s Office honored nearly 43,225 claims totaling more than $62 million in Fiscal Year 2016. Since 2007, the Comptroller’s Office has returned more than $585 million in unclaimed property. In total, the agency has more than 1.2 million accounts worth more than $1.5 billion in its Unclaimed Property accounts.