Thursday, September 4, 2014
I recently came across a press release from the NJ Department of Treasury from earlier this summer titled “Christie Administration Reunites New Jersey Residents with Record $125 Million in Unclaimed Property and Funds During Fiscal Year 2014”.
The release bragged -
“The Unclaimed Property Administration, a division of the State Department of the Treasury, returned a record amount of money to New Jersey residents during the last three years.
During Fiscal Year 2014, the UPA paid a record $125.1 million in claims, eclipsing last year’s record of $107.5 million. The number of claimants also reached a record 70,762, up from 61,978 the previous year. During Fiscal Year 2012, the UPA paid out $95 million, which was a record at the time, to 55,206 claimants.
The State recently surpassed the $1 billion mark in funds reunited with rightful owners during the program’s history.
“Millions of dollars in personal assets become lost or abandoned every year,” said State Treasurer Andrew Sidamon-Eristoff. “The purpose of the Unclaimed Property Administration is to protect the property rights of all New Jersey residents. By securing and safeguarding these funds, we can reunite them with New Jerseyans so they can reclaim what is rightfully theirs.”
Some of this year’s claims included:
· $1.3 million received by a Hudson County family for an estate claim;
· $553,000 received by a Passaic County man mostly for certificates of deposit;
· $424,000 received by an Ocean County man for bank checks,
· $377,000 received by a Bergen County woman mostly for healthcare policy benefits and bank accounts.”
I did not do as good as those mentioned in the press release, but in 2006 I was able to get over $4,500 for my family via the NJ Unclaimed Property Administration. Click here and here for the story. I also received another $700+ for my family in a subsequent search.
The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators explains –
“Unclaimed property refers to accounts in financial institutions and companies that have had no activity generated or contact with the owner for one year or a longer period. Common forms of unclaimed property include savings or checking accounts, stocks, uncashed dividends or payroll checks, refunds, traveler's checks, trust distributions, unredeemed money orders or gift certificates, insurance payments or refunds and life insurance policies, annuities, certificates of deposit, customer overpayments, utility security deposits, mineral royalty payments, and contents of safe deposit boxes.”
I have found that much of the unclaimed property currently held by the states is the result of the demutualization of insurance companies. Companies are required by law to turn "abandoned" funds over to the state, which then makes an effort to find the owner or heirs. Unclaimed funds are held until the owner or current heir is found — the money does not revert to the State Treasury after a period of time.
In most cases you will not necessarily receive the actual property (i.e. stocks, mutual fund shares, bonds, etc). The State will sell the stocks, bonds or other property upon receipt and deposit the proceeds to the fund.
Each of the 50 states has an Unclaimed Property fund. You can access your state’s fund directly via the NAUPA website. Or you can go to MissingMoney.com. Perform a search on your name and the names of your family members, both living and deceased. You may find that somewhere out there someone is holding money that belongs to you or your family!