New Jersey returned $142.6 million in unclaimed property and assets to 50,837 rightful owners and their heirs in fiscal year 2018. That was the second-highest figure ever returned, according to state Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio.
The state’s unclaimed-property laws require financial institutions, insurance companies, utility companies and the like to annually report abandoned assets — dormant accounts or ones that have been inactive for a specified time. Before the advent of these laws, banks and corporations would happily absorb abandoned accounts and uncashed checks. Current law also requires the property eventually be turned over to the state, which then goes about getting it to the rightful owners. In fact, the state is required to hold the assets in perpetuity until they’re claimed.
The restorative transactions are handled by the Unclaimed Property Administration, which as well as following the rightful money trail, publicizes the process in a variety of ways so that we all have a chance to get a welcome surprise. The UPA also publishes the names and addresses of abandoned property owners twice a year; the upcoming August advertisement is expected to list the names of 165,800 residents whose property — valued at $100 or more — was handed over to the state during FY2018. Residents can find out if New Jersey is holding property on their behalf through an online searchable database.