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Finding an Old IRA

A reader asks: My Father is in his 70s and suffers from Alzheimer’s. He’s been living with me for the last couple years. I know that he put money into an IRA for much of his life. However, we can’t seem to find any records of this account. Can you suggest how I can locate it to see if he still has funds available?

My answer: That’s a tough situation. My first suggestion would be to check the Missing Money database. It’s essentially a database run by a group of state and local governments that has record as to unclaimed property. I don’t know if they’d have information about unclaimed IRAs, but it’s worth a shot.

If that doesn’t work, it looks like you’re going to be stuck trying to hunt it down manually.

Does he have any other statements from other financial institutions? If so, I’d try contacting them to see if they have any information as to him ever having an IRA with them.

Alternatively, do you have any of his old tax returns? If you do, are there any 1099-DIV or 1099-INT forms included? If there are, I would contact the financial institutions listed there as well.

The last thing I can think of: To the best of your knowledge, was he ever audited by the IRS or a state tax agency? If he was, they might have copies of the proof he submitted of having made contributions to a retirement plan.

I wish you the best of luck with your search.

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If you want to discuss this article, I recommend starting a conversation over at the Bogleheads investing forum.
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