Dave Erickson of Omaha was suspicious when he was contacted by a company that said it had come across unclaimed property owned by his father, who died in 2002. So was Dave’s sister, Denise Lathrop, who lives in Cheyenne, Wyo.
The two had been co-executors of their parents’ estates and had been meticulous and deliberate about their responsibilities. Besides, their parents had shared everything, and all their property was in both names, the siblings thought.
The company told Dave and his sister that it would do the paperwork to recover the property, which consisted of stock valued then at about $7,000. For its services, it would take 20 percent. Dave said he worked with his broker to locate the stock on his own and even attempted unsuccessfully to negotiate a lower fee with the locator company, which now was saying the stock had increased in value to $9,000.
Finally in 2014, property belonging to Stanley K. Erickson, the siblings’ father, was turned over to the State of Nebraska and showed up in the Treasurer’s records. By this time, the stock and dividends were valued at $14,079.
“It paid for us to wait,” Dave said, knowing that the state returns unclaimed property absolutely free.
The siblings are still perplexed about how this one investment ended up in their father’s name only, especially given that their mother, Jean, who died in 2006, was the savvy one when it came to investing. Dave, owner of Erickson’s Plumbing, has put his share in the bank and will use it on a new house he and his wife, Sue, are building. The Erickson family includes three grown sons and their families: Mike and his wife, Joselyn, and their two sons, Matthew and Benjamin; Dan and his wife, Ashley, and their son, Braxton; and Steven.
As an advisor for the boys youth group DeMolay, Darrel Weers of Lincoln had been in contact with the Unclaimed Property Division of the State Treasurer’s Office once before. That time, an $875 check to the youth group was never cashed. The boys had earned the money for working at a food stand at a Husker football game.
So, when Darrel and his wife, Nancy, opened a letter from the Treasurer informing them of unclaimed property in their name, they were surprised, but knew exactly what to do. “When I inquired, I found out it was a CD that the bank had said would automatically renew,” Darrel said. “When the bank says it would be automatically renewed, I assumed it was automatically renewed. We thought it was invested. We had no idea.”
The couple had purchased two CDs at the same time, and one apparently was automatically renewed and the other, for some reason, wasn’t. “Somebody didn’t do something they were supposed to do,” said Darrel. The Weers put the check for $2,154 in their savings account, saying they appreciate the state’s effort “to keep an eye on things” for all of its residents. “I appreciate somebody checking on it,” said Darrel, who worked in industrial maintenance. Nancy worked as a health tech at Norwood Park Elementary School for 25 years.
Now retired, the couple shares a yearning for travel. Among their destinations have been Egypt, India, Panama, Costa Rica, and South America, as well as Europe where they visited “13 countries in 18 days.” Last fall they took a Baltic Sea cruise and soon they will be heading to Alaska. Their favorite, a cruise through the Mediterranean. “We enjoy seeing different parts of the world,” said Nancy.
When they aren’t traveling, they spend time with their two grown children and their families – Tracy and Kevin Dickes and two children in Milford and Tyler and Diana Weers and four children in Lincoln – and Nancy’s parents, Keith and Elaine Rees in Lincoln. They also work as event staff members at Memorial Stadium, Devaney Sports Center, and Pinnacle Bank Arena, and they volunteer at Foodnet and the Lied Center.
In a bustling town of just over 3,000 people, where Rosie Linnenbrink has lived her entire life, she didn’t need to read the Sunday paper to learn that her name was on the unclaimed property list prepared by the Nebraska State Treasurer’s Office. She just had to step out the door.
One conversation after another that day started with the same question: “Do you know you’re in the paper?”
“That’s the advantage of living in a small town,” said Linnenbrink, who grew up, went to school, got married, and raised a family of eight children in West Point. Now widowed, Linnebrink keeps an active schedule with bowling once a week in winter, playing cards once a month, church almost every day, choir practice on Sunday mornings, and catering for weddings with her friend Wilma French whenever called.
“We led a very simple life,” Linnenbrink said about raising eight children. “And I prayed a lot.”
She has been a lifelong member of St. Mary Catholic Church, one of northeast Nebraska’s oldest and largest churches built in 1891.
She stays involved with her children, ranging in age from 53 to 31, and their families, including 14 grandchildren, who all live within a three-hour drive. There’s Eddie in West Point; Cindy in Shenandoah, Iowa; Craig in Ft. Calhoun; Cheryl in Blair; Mary in Snyder; and the youngest three in Omaha – Cathy, David, and Kristie.
Linnenbrink said she was surprised to receive almost $600 from the claim she filed with the Treasurer’s Office. The money came largely from commissions associated with her late husband Edwin’s insurance business. She put the money in her savings account.
The Nebraska Sandhills, with its sandy soil and warm summer days and cool summer nights, creates a perfect climate for growing potatoes, says Jim Allen, general manager and president of Western Potatoes, Inc., of Alliance. The employee-owned company specializes in round, white potatoes with thin skins, just right for Frito Lay potato chips.
“Since all employees are owners of this company, just how well this company does depends on the employees, and the employees benefit from how well the company does,” Allen said, explaining the strong work ethic of the mid-size potato producer. Western grows potatoes on 2,000 acres in Nebraska and another 400 acres in Kansas and stores the potatoes in well ventilated, climate-controlled warehouses – 12 in Alliance and 3 in Gordon. Each warehouse holds 100 semi loads of potatoes.
In addition to growing potatoes to be shipped to Denver for chipping, Western is Nebraska’s largest seed potato grower. Seed potatoes are sorted and inspected for size and disease and must meet certification standards before being shipped to growers across the United States and into Canada.
Western received $8,203 from the Unclaimed Property Division in 2014 for vendor checks from the State of North Carolina. Allen says the claim came from a gas company. While Western uses a lot of gas, he is not sure of the exact source of the money and speculated it could have come from a class-action lawsuit.
Regardless, Allen said, filing a claim is simple and doesn’t take long. “I think it is good when state government makes an effort to return money to the taxpayer; it is good that the state is considerate enough of the taxpayer to get that money back to them. I don’t know that that occurs everywhere,” he said. “People have the idea that it only goes one way, that we are always giving money to the state. This speaks well for Nebraska,that they work hard at it. Keep up the good work.”