Collecting unclaimed cash can be an ordeal


Camille Dew wanted to bring closure for herself and her three siblings. But carrying out her father's final request turned into quite an ordeal.

A signature on a claim form to recover some lost money was one of Benjamin Dew's final acts in 2007.

"He was alive to actually sign the claim, then later that evening he passed away. It was that close," Camille said.

Camille sent in the form to Unclaimed Cash -- the state's program to return unclaimed money to its rightful owner. Her father had lost track of the insurance money after the company had gone through several owners.

"It started with Northwestern Life, went to Reliastar, then it was bought out by ING," she said.

It was quite a lot of money -- $49,248. The State Controller's Office denied the claim about six months later

"The claim became instantly more complicated as soon as her father passed away because there's wills, trusts, probates. The estate needs to get sorted out," Garin Casaleggio from the State Controller's Office said.

So Camille sent more documentation, including the insurance certificates, death certificate and the will. But the claim would be denied again about six months later and then a third time in January 2010.

"That was the last time I got it back and that's when I contacted 7 On Your Side," Camille said.

We contacted State Controller John Chiang's office.

"An hour later, really an hour later, I got a call from the advocate from the State Controller's Office," Camille said.

"What we would have needed at that point was a new claim form signed by her as an executor of the estate," Garin said.

So that's what Camille gave them and one week later, she received a check from the State Controller's Office for $49,000.

"The controller is very satisfied that the property got back to her. We're always working harder to improve things, to put people first," Garin said.

"I was delighted. I wanted to almost cry because I would like to close a chapter in my book. I'm not clear that without your intervention, that it ever would have occurred," Camille said.

Those who have problems with a claim should call the State Controller's Office and ask for the property owner's advocate.

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