Dear Senior Living Adviser,
We found two IRA CDs from 1990 and 1992 in our mother's safe deposit box after she passed last year. The bank where the CDs were drawn has merged twice since that time. The bank has no record of the CDs, that they ever existed or that they were cashed. The CDs are marked non-negotiable. Do we have any recourse? The bank was originally in Indiana but is now regional. How can we find these unclaimed funds?
-- Bill Bewilderment
It's likely that the money is sitting in an unclaimed property account in the state where your mother lived in the '90s.
That's where inactive bank accounts go to live after being dormant for a period of years. Called escheat property, the money is still the account holders' -- they just have to claim it. If the accounts were turned over prior to a merger, the bank wouldn't necessarily have a record of the CDs.
Because of the potential for required minimum distributions, or RMDs, from the IRA, the dormancy period for the account may differ from that of a regular CD. That brings up another issue with these funds: the potential tax and penalties due on the unmet RMDs. That's outside my wheelhouse, but not your tax professional's.
The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, or NAUPA, sponsors a website -- Unclaimed.org -- that will help you in your search.
Another complication is that the IRA CDs should have named beneficiaries. Since you have the physical CDs, they should identify the beneficiaries, but the state's unclaimed property division will have specific steps for you to take to identify who is eligible to receive these funds.
How does this relate to senior living? It's a reminder for seniors to stay on top of their finances. Don't force your children to become amateur sleuths to track down their inheritance.