Memories are forever, but what happens when no one is around to claim those memories?
Sometimes, they get auctioned off.
The Unclaimed Property Division of State Treasury is in charge of safekeeping unclaimed memories and valuables.
Currently, the office holds more than $600 million in abandoned property, and State Treasurer Kate Marshall wants it returned to its rightful owners.
The items in unclaimed safety deposit boxes vary from valuable to unique.
A kernel of corn, preserved in a safe deposit box.
A baby’s umbilical cord.
The department has found soil samples, old photographs, old recordings, coin collections and stamp collections, said Kelli Miller, deputy treasurer for Unclaimed Property.
There have been gold coins, expensive jewels and one box had bonds worth $200,000.
One of those boxes show a lifetime of a teacher’s memories. Years of cards from her students wishing her luck on getting to China, an apparent dream of hers, and a passport fill the box.
Another box held hundreds of baby pictures and cassette recordings from a mother who moved from Las Vegas to Orlando. Her son is now grown. The treasury department was able to locate her and return those pieces of her son’s childhood.
“Mainly what it is, it’s just memories,” Miller said. “Something like that to a mom is more valuable.”
Property is considered abandoned when a period of time, typically three years, passes with no contact from the owner, according to the Treasury Department. The state then takes possession and stores it.
The property includes bank accounts, checks written for anything from payroll to insurance, stocks, bonds, gift certificates, mutual funds, dividends, insurance policy benefits, safe deposit box contents, oil and gas royalties and court deposits.
When these things are not claimed, they are auctioned off.
The auction is held annually on the first Saturday in December, but those memories often find their way home throughout the five year process it takes to be put on the auction block, according to Miller.
“If we can’t locate family members, we auction it off,” Miller said. “Whatever is deemed not valuable is destroyed.”
The reasons for unclaimed property vary from people moving, forgetting they had a box or a spouse that never shared the information with loved ones, according to Miller, but the department makes a valiant effort to locate the owners before the items go to auction.
When funds go unclaimed, the state puts the money into the Millennium Scholarship program, which awards up to $10,000 scholarships to Nevada high school graduates.
“As far as the money put into scholarship funds, the owner never loses the right to claim that money,” Miller said. The department uses money coming in to pay the claim.
The Treasury Department advertises in the Las Vegas Review-Journal and other newspapers the last known names and addresses of people with recent unclaimed property, in an effort to return. The money waiting to be distributed totals $73.4 million.
The department is expecting about 22,000 extra claims during the period of publication in the Las Vegas area, Miller said.
People can also search online to reclaim their property at https://NevadaTreasurer.gov. On the page, there is a yellow “search for unclaimed property” box to search by name.
Contact reporter Rochel Leah Goldblatt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0381.