Old bearer bonds recovered from flooded safe deposit box during Hurricane Katrina yield $250K

Published 5:21 pm Wednesday, May 10, 2023

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Recovered contents from a safe deposit box flooded during Hurricane Katrina and left untouched for more than 17 years included old, paper bearer bonds in deteriorated condition. Louisiana’s Unclaimed Property Program employees restored each bond, recovering the certificate serial numbers and found matches in the unclaimed property database, allowing a claim to be paid.

“This is a very rare story, but it goes to show that you never know what may end up as unclaimed property,” said State Treasurer John M. Schroder. “In the case of the heir to these old bearer bonds, it amounted to a cash value of more than $250,000. That’s why I encourage people to call our offices and check it out before you discard it as something insignificant or trash.”

The bearer bonds were part of the contents of a safe deposit box held in a Whitney Bank in New Orleans that flooded during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. When the contents were recovered from the bank, the owner put them in a plastic storage bin and left them untouched in their attic for more than 17 years. The original owner died, leaving the bonds to his heir. Wondering if the bonds had any value, the new owner contacted the Louisiana Department of Treasury Unclaimed Property Program.

The bonds were indeed documented in the old logs on file in the Louisiana Unclaimed Property Program. The serial numbers on the actual bonds matched with the serial numbers in the printed documents on record for every bond owned and a cash value of more than $250,000 was returned to the heir.

If you think you may be the holder of old bonds with value, contact the Louisiana Unclaimed Property Program at 888-925-4127 or online at LaCashClaim.org, and we’ll be glad to assist you.

Unclaimed property is lost or forgotten money from items such as royalties, unclaimed cash, stocks, bonds, securities, and insurance proceeds never paid out. One in six individuals in Louisiana has unclaimed property, with claims averaging $900. To check for unclaimed property, go to LaCashClaim.org.

2023 marks the 50th Anniversary of Louisiana’s Unclaimed Property Program. More than half of the unclaimed property checks ever written from the Louisiana Department of Treasury were during Schroder’s administration. Over the past fifty years, Louisiana’s Unclaimed Property Program has issued 1.38 million unclaimed property checks, totaling $727 million, to the rightful owners. During Schroder’s administration, 734,226 checks have been printed putting $278 million back into the hands of the owners and into the state’s economy.