In today’s world, change comes at a pretty rapid rate. That is certainly true when it comes to our assets and financial accounts. Many people move jobs and change financial institutions frequently. It is easy to understand how assets can be overlooked or forgotten. Maybe I never completed the paperwork to rollover all my retirement accounts, stock plans etc. from a former employer or I didn’t close out all the accounts I had at one bank before moving to another. If I change my address I will no longer receive account statements so it is easy to forget about these accounts. Out of sight. Out of mind.
What happens to this property? The law calls it abandoned property. New Jersey, like many states has a body of law covering abandoned or unclaimed property, what is called the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. The account holder (eg. financial institution holding the account) has a duty to report abandoned property to the Administrator. In New Jersey that is the state treasurer.
Unclaimed property then must be turned over to the custody of the state. New Jersey alone is currently holding in its possession more than $1 billion in unclaimed property. Multiply that out over 50 states and there is a lot of unclaimed property in this country. In 2015 alone Americans misplaced $7 billion in assets.
So, is that it? Does the government get to keep all this unclaimed property? Well, only so long as the rightful owner doesn’t lay claim to it. Luckily, there is an easy way to find out if you have any abandoned property and to reclaim it. We’ll go over that next week.