Friday, September 23, 2005

State Personal Property Auctions


Watches, rings, coins, these are the kinds of items that people find important enough to store in a safe deposit box. With the passage, sometimes these treasures may become lost to their owners or their heirs. At a recent Washington State Department of Revenue auction over 70 pocket watches, some 120 rings, jewelry, coins, gold pieces, and a tourmaline collection sold. It can become a very large problem for states to hold this merchandise. California currently holds 3.2 billion in unclaimed property.

All states at varying intervals have to sell the contents of their unclaimed safe deposit boxes and other unclaimed personal property, usually in three year intervals. Most state laws require the property to go unclaimed for three years before it can be sold. Some states have online auctions to sell unclaimed items. California's ongoing online safe deposit box auction started last December. Texas has held an unclaimed property auction by internet simulcast.

What the states do with the proceeds of the sale varies. Some place the money in a special fund for schools. Others hold the money until someone can claim it. Here is a sample of how various states handle unclaimed merchandise.