The Allerton Public Library has about $70,000 in found money sitting in a bank account in Hawaii, but it may not make it across the ocean and into library coffers until the middle of next year.
It was in late 2016 that Library Director Lisa Winters learned of additional investments that had been located in the name of the late Max E. Hency, the benefactor who has already left about $3 million to the library following his death in 2005.
Those dollars paid for construction of the new, 12,350-square-foot library building that was completed on Green Apple Lane in Monticello in 2016.
After Hency’s estate was closed, about $180,000 was found in an investment account that also belonged to Hency. His will allocated five percent of his estate to a pair of cousins and another five percent to one of his friends. The remainder was split between the library and the home once owned by American writer and journalist Henry Louis Mencken in Baltimore.
But Winters has found it difficult getting information on the possible distribution of the found money, saying phone calls to attorneys in Hawaii are rarely returned. After expressing concern that bank fees could be eating away at the total, registered letters were sent to attorneys stating, “I have gotten no communication for a very long time, and want to know what’s going on,” said Winters.
What she found was not positive, at least when it comes to a timely payout.
“It’s almost like they kind of forgot about it,” Winters told the Allerton Public Library board at its meeting Aug. 7.
Attorneys told her in a letter that “the testamentary letters had accidentally expired, which has delayed everything, so now we have to go back and start over,” said the library director.
That means the estate process will need to begin anew, with new testamentary letters needed.
Winters was told it may be June of 2020 before the latest chapter of the Hency estate is concluded with the added distribution. Attorneys did say an early distribution of about $35,000 could occur prior to that time.
On a positive note, Winters said the bank has started to invest the dollars, instead of keeping it in a low-interest savings account.
She also told board members she would not sign a waiver of liability requested by the estate lawyers without consulting the library district attorney. Winters discussed the request with a spokesman of the Mencken home, who stated he would not be signing the waiver.
Winters called the situation “frustrating,” claiming that the testamentary letters expired more than a year prior, “and you’re just finding this?”
“It begs the question, what if you hadn’t sent the certified mail?” commented board member Mike Harris.
The library board has not been counting on the money, but has discussed the possibility of using the dollars for a sign or marker at the new library.
Winters also informed the board that:
–Auditors would be in site at the library for one to twos in September to research the annual audit;
–landscaping work had been completed; and
–program attendance in July totaled 599, most of those being youth.