TOPEKA, Kan. — State Treasurer Ron Estes announced today the receipt of $861,908 from the U.S. Treasury as the result of a lawsuit filed by the state requesting payment for matured U.S. savings bonds found in unclaimed safe deposit boxes. The payment is historic as Kansas is the first state in the country to obtain ownership and compensation for U.S. savings bonds within its possession.
“I couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome of this case,” said Kansas State Treasurer Ron Estes. “We set out with the goal of obtaining bond money that rightfully belonged to the state of Kansas and its citizens, and I certainly believe we’ve accomplished that.”
The payment comes in response to a suit filed in Shawnee County District Court in which the state was awarded title to the 1,447 fully matured and unclaimed U.S. savings bonds in the state’s possession along with a class of matured and unclaimed bonds that were issued to owners with a last known address in Kansas. This action was authorized by legislation passed by the Kansas Legislature.
“Previously, all attempts made by any state to claim U.S. savings bonds under various unclaimed property acts were denied due to a lack of legal title to the bonds,” explained Estes. “However, through collaborative efforts between our office and the law firm Walters Bender Strohbehn & Vaughan, P.C., the United States Treasury has recognized the state’s rights as owners of the bonds in our possession and redeemed them to us.”
Somewhat inconsistently though, the United States Treasury denied the State Treasurer’s request to redeem the remaining class of all matured U.S. savings bonds that were issued to owners with a last known address in Kansas. In response, the office through their legal counsel has filed an action in the United States Court of Federal Claims seeking payment for these bonds and records identifying their original owners.
The Treasury currently holds more than $16 billion worth of matured U.S. savings bonds that are no longer paying interest and the amount issued to owners with addresses in Kansas is estimated to be over $151 million.
“Some of these bonds date back to World War I, and many of the original owners or their heirs are unaware that the U.S. Treasury is still holding their money,” said Estes. “The Treasury has made limited information available about matured U.S. savings bonds issued after 1974 at http://www.treasuryhunt.gov, but the original owner’s social security number is required to search the database and no information is provided to the public about older bonds.”
“This is a success that wouldn’t have been possible without its many supporters,” said Estes. “I want to thank prior state treasurers for their role in initiating this process, U.S. Bank for their work in processing the overwhelming number of bonds, and all my staff for their dedication to seeing this case through to the end.”
People are encouraged to search for unclaimed property by visiting http://www.kansascash.com or calling 1-800-432-0386 (toll free) or 785-296-4165.
Ron Estes is the 39th state treasurer for the state of Kansas and is the first state-wide elected official from the city of Wichita in 20 years. He was elected to serve as the Midwest Regional Vice President for the National Association of State Treasurers 2012-2013, and now serves on the College Savings Plans Network Executive Board. Ron has also served as Sedgwick County Treasurer and as the treasurer for the Kansas County Treasurers’ Association. He was born in Topeka and is a fifth-generation Kansan. His family continues to run a farm in Osage County. Ron and his wife, Susan, have three children.