Q, In 1971 and '73, a relative gave each of my three children a $25 U.S. Savings Bond as a confirmation gift. Over the years, there have been several moves and the bonds have been lost. I know it's not a great deal of money, but is there any way we might claim it?
-- R.W., of Belleville
A. Indeed, there is, and the sooner you get on it, the better.
I'm guessing these gifts in the early '70s were E bonds, which, to my understanding, quit earning interest after 30 years -- or more than a decade ago. So you may as well put your money to work as soon as possible rather than let the government keep playing around with it.
What you need (and I will send you one) is a copy of Public Debt Form 1048, which allows you to make a claim for lost, stolen or destroyed U.S. savings bonds. At first glance, it may seem hopeless because it asks for issue dates and bond numbers, which you obviously don't have. But don't worry -- all of that information is optional.
In your case, you can provide approximate issue dates since you know about when the gifts were given. You apparently know the face amount, but you'll have to leave the bond numbers blank. Then, put the names, addresses and Social Security numbers (if they had them at that time) of your children. (Read the directions on Pages 5-6 first.)
One more thing: Since the bonds were a gift, the Social Security (SSN) number on the bonds may be that of the relative who gave the gift. So, if you have the relative's SSN, you'll probably want to include it, too. It might be useful to include it in a separate letter that fully explains your plight.
After that, you'll be asked about the loss (when you discovered the loss, who had the bonds last, etc.) along with questions about your children. If you have additional information you feel is useful, include it in the above-mentioned letter. Finally, you'll be asked whether you want new bonds or a payment and how to get that to you.
After you finish filling out the form, do not sign it at home. Instead, you'll have to take it to a bank or other financial institution that handles such bonds. The U.S. Treasury does not offer a list of such institutions, but most banks and credit unions offer such services, so just call around.
Once you find such a bank, you will be asked to sign in the presence of a "certifying officer." If you don't have an account at that bank, don't forget to bring valid identification. Call ahead and ask about all the particulars so you don't waste a trip.
Once the forms have been signed and dated, mail them to one of the two addresses in Parkersburg, W.Va., depending on the type of bond. (As I said, I'm guessing they were E bonds.) The U.S. Treasury then will search their records to see whether they may have been cashed and then issue replacement bonds, a check or an electronic funds transfer into your bank account.
If my use of the department's bond calculator is correct, you may have approximately a $375 windfall coming. There should be no fee involved -- and you don't even have to pay me a tip. If anyone is in the same predicament, you can print out a form at www.treasurydirect.gov. Search for "Form 1048."
Q. I noticed today that your paper no longer prints the total number of pages in the paper. When did it stop this and why?
-- G.R., of Belleville
A. Wow, you either have a fantastic memory, or, like Rip Van Winkle, you've just awoken after a very long nap to find thousands of papers in your driveway.
Even I didn't remember us ever printing the number of pages -- until I went back and wore out our microfilm machine doing research. Sure enough, shortly after Capital Cities Communications bought the News-Democrat from the Kern family, we began running the number of pages in each issue on the right side of the front-page masthead on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 1972.
But we quit running that figure on the day that we redesigned the paper to celebrate our 125th anniversary --July 24, 1983. I've checked issues in every decade since, and it doesn't look like it ever reappeared, so it has been nearly 30 years since you saw that number gracing our front page.
Why? When you get right down to it, it's not terribly meaningful, News-Democrat Editor Jeffry Couch says. I don't buy a paper based on the number of pages, and the paper's not that big that you can't quickly figure it out if you need to know. So, we'll continue printing volume and issue numbers but it looks like we've turned the page on that page number.
What lasting legal point was made in the IRS' "Dinah Shore ruling"?
Answer to Thursday's trivia: The late Anne Baxter, who won an Oscar for her role in "The Razor's Edge" and earned a nomination for "All About Eve," was the granddaughter of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright. In turn, Baxter's daughter Melissa Galt is an interior designer in Atlanta (www.melissagaltinteriors.com). Her slogan? Take it with a grain of Galt.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or email@example.com