CHARLESTON – State Treasurer John Perdue says state residents should be diligent in remembering the existence of safe deposit boxes, whether they were maintained by a deceased family member or themselves.
Safe deposit boxes are normally maintained by banks. By law, a person who lets box rent lapse for five years or more is subject to contents forfeiture to the State Treasury. Relocation, illness or death are possible reasons why the rent may not be paid. Banks are forbidden from holding onto the items themselves.
“At that point we advertise the names both in printed newspaper inserts and on our website, www.wvtreasury.com, in hopes of finding the person who last rented the box,” Treasurer Perdue said. “You might be surprised at the number of boxes turned over in this fashion, but we get plenty of items.”
So many so, in fact, that the Treasurer’s Office has begun auctioning the items off online. Auctions typically run for two weeks and virtually back to back, such is the volume of items on hand.
Any money gleaned for items at auction remains in the name of the safe deposit box owner, who only needs to prove identity and/or estate settlement to claim the proceeds.
“Online auctions have been a success and they enable us to keep accepting safe deposit box items,” Treasurer Perdue said. “But we take no joy when people are separated from their property. We’d rather see that not happen in the first place. So remember if you have a safe deposit box or ask around to see if any elderly or deceased relatives keep or kept one.”