One Iowa resident found a $4.5 million windfall through the state’s Great Iowa Treasure Hunt, a program that helps people claim their unclaimed property iowa, this Wednesday.

At some point, an owner invested over 15,000 shares in McDonald’s Corporation. When the company determined it was unclaimed property, it was turned over to Iowa as their last known address was located here,” according to State Treasurer Roby Smith’s news release. My office sent them a due diligence letter informing them about unclaimed money in Iowa’s Great Treasure Hunt competition.

Iowa unclaimed cash
Iowa unclaimed cash

How does the Great Iowa Treasure Hunt work?

Businesses and financial institutions are required to send assets to the State Treasurer’s Office when no contact with an owner can be established, typically after three years. Once shares have been submitted for sale, any proceeds are held as collateral until their return.

The owner of the McDonald’s investment quickly responded to our letter by returning their shares and dividends back to them.

“Success stories like these add excitement to every search at; you never know what or how much is waiting to be discovered,” explained Smith in his release.

Where can I locate unclaimed money?

Iowa Treasurer’s Office has returned approximately $347.5 Million of unclaimed property back to Iowans since 2012, while safekeeping an additional $485 Million amount. One in 10 Iowans may still have unclaimed property waiting for them.

Unclaimed properties include:

Accounts Forgotten

Stocks, uncashed checks, life insurance policies and utility refunds that remain outstanding as well as abandoned safe deposit boxes are considered assets that need to be liquidated immediately.

Top Ten unclaimed properties

Treasurer’s Office estimates that Iowans typically find less than $1,000 when searching their properties and belongings for hidden funds, with around $100 being the median average. Some Iowans may even come up with much larger sums and should contact this office to claim them:

Douglas Lankhorst in Hawarden possesses $808,591.84.

Gary Thomsen of Olin is sitting on $404,747.69 in cash dividends.

First National Bank of Chicago and Curtis Companies Retirement Trust in Clinton currently hold $360,010 in liquid assets.

Wellmark Inc. in Des Moines currently has $336,338.07 available to them in cash.

Richard and Theresa Reinders from Ford Dodge currently hold an estimated total of $329,987.53 in liquidated shares.

Janet Peters of Davenport currently holds $317,449.53 in cash reserves.

Cedars Sinai Medical Center of Clinton holds $292,441.53 worth of liquidated shares.

Pauline Durgin of Urbandale currently holds $272,065.96 in cash reserves.

Carlson Thomas Bruce in Vinton holds an estimated cash balance of $265,220.46.

Herbert O. Stiefel of Burlington owns 243 shares worth $243,778.67 which have been liquidated.

How to locate unclaimed money

To see if you own unclaimed property, visit and use your last name or business name as search criteria.

Once you’ve found property that belongs to you, click the Claim button to begin the claim process. This site also allows you to upload supporting documentation and keep an eye on its progress.

Noelle Alviz-Gransee is a breaking news reporter at the Des Moines Register. Follow her on Twitter as @NoelleHannika or email her directly at for updates.