You may recall the story of the 7-year old Massachusetts boy who found $8-thousand dollars on the playground. Well, actually, he found a checkbook with $8-thousand dollars cash inside. The little boy was sliding down the slide, and at the bottom he found quite the treasure.
He showed it to his uncle, who told him that he would learn a valuable lesson that day. What would you do if your child brought you something of value that he or she had found? Later that morning, the boy’s uncle took him to the local police precinct to turn in the checkbook and the money.
It’s a good thing that he didn’t decide his nephew should keep the money because he may have been charged under the state’s “finders keepers” laws. These laws vary from state to state, but having a clear conscience requires only honesty, which is the lesson that the uncle taught his nephew on that day in September.
It turns out, a very short while after the checkbook and money were turned in to police, a local contractor called to inquire as to whether his checkbook had been turned in. Elias Santos had been at the same park with his children that very morning.
Mr. Santos gave the little boy a $100 reward for his time and honesty.
All states have laws requiring the return of money or property. Usually, you are required to contact local law enforcement and turn over to them the money or property for a period of time, giving the owner the chance to claim it. If the owner does not come forward, the money then goes to the finder.
These kinds of cases can become complicated if the discovery is made on private property. What happens, for instance, if you sell a home and forget for several years valuables that were hidden in a private nook?
After a few years, should the new owner then be required to return the valuables? You be the judge.