Bruce Williams | Smart Money: Cash that check, even if it's really old


DEAR BRUCE >> I found a long-lost bank check in the amount of $800 that was made out to me, dated December 1986. The bank has changed hands numerous times since then, and the current bank will not honor it. I am of the belief that a cashier's check is good forever. I really do need the money, which is legally mine. Please advise me on the correct course of action that I can take to recover my money.

— J.M.

DEAR J.M. >> That's really an ancient check! The money should still be held as unclaimed monies, which banks are required to turn over to the state when they are not claimed. There it will last forever until someone provides proof of ownership. You'll not receive any interest.

Write to the state, give them all the details and let them check back through their records. I don't think there should be too much of a problem in recovering the $800.

DEAR BRUCE >> I recently came into $200,000 from a property sale. How do you suggest investing it, in something like a retirement account or the stock market? I am 61 and in excellent health.

— P.J.

DEAR P.J. >> Since you're not in the stock market and have no apparent expertise there, I would strongly urge you to go to a broker or two and explain your circumstance. Talk to the broker about what he/she would suggest for you. You should easily expect to earn up to 5 percent or a bit more.

At 61 years old, you've a long way to go, and you want to make that money stretch as far as you can. That is the best way to handle it, in my view. Good luck.

DEAR BRUCE >> Is it possible to convert EE bonds at a bank or do I need a broker?

— Reader

DEAR READER >> While it's possible that an occasional bank will not do this for their customers, most banks would be very happy to convert EE bonds. There is no reason at all to use a broker. It's a simple procedure.

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