WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 30, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and the Florida Bureau of Unclaimed Property are gearing up for their next auction Saturday in Jacksonville. The items featured are taken from safe deposit boxes that go unclaimed by the families of people who died in Florida.
“We’ve had documents signed by presidents like Abraham Lincoln, autographed pictures of Babe Ruth; we’ve even received human ashes,” said Unclaimed Property Bureau chief Walter Graham.
Outside the vault Tuesday was a display of several auction items, including a 14-karat yellow gold necklace with 34 diamonds that are set around a stunning, 16-carat tourmaline stone cut in a pear shape. An in-house appraiser who works in the vault has valued the necklace at $1,200, but often items will sell for nearly three times their list price at auction.
“The funds from auctions go to support public education until they’re claimed,” said Ashley Carr, director of communications at the Florida Department of Financial Services. “So they will sit in a public education trust fund, but if the heir comes forward, they’re entitled to get every dime that the item was worth.”
Graham explained that in many cases, people who are the heir to unclaimed property are completely unaware of the situation.
“Florida is a state where people retire from up north, and their family is still scattered up in the Northeast,” he said. “When parents die, children come in and try to settle all the accounts of their deceased parents but weren’t aware that their parents had a safe deposit box.”
Banks report information on the owner, including name, date of birth and last known address of the deceased that they have on record. Occasionally, safe deposit boxes will contain personal documents from the deceased that contain information to help find an heir.
The auctions, which are held at least once a year, generally bring in around $1.3 million each — although that number fluctuates.
Contact: Ashley Carr
(850) 413- 2842
Story by Ryan Dailey