Last week I was explaining what happens to abandoned or unclaimed property. New Jersey has in its possession more than $1 billion of property that people have abandoned, usually because they have forgotten about the accounts. Nationwide, there is well over $50 billion in unclaimed funds. Financial institutions and other holders of this property must report the property to the State Treasurer.
The State, however, doesn’t get to keep the property forever. If the rightful owner reclaims it, then the State must turn it back over to the owner. But, where do you go to find this property? Luckily, in today’s online world it is easier than it has ever been to search and reclaim abandoned property.
There are websites that can help you locate property you may have had in any state. Because each state has its own unclaimed property laws and acts as custodian for property held in that state it is important to run a check of any state where you lived or had a reason to take accumulate property. It is also a good idea to check states where a family who has left you an inheritance lived. Two websites that can help are UnclaimedMoney.org and MissingMoney.com. They are easy to navigate and if they find any property you can usually fill out a claim form on their websites.
Of course, the best way to hold onto your money is to not lose it in the first place. It’s a good idea to consolidate like accounts. For example, if you’ve moved from one job to another and have 401ks with both companies it would be a good idea to roll the old account into the newer one. Anytime you move from one bank to another always double check with the old bank to make sure there aren’t any open accounts.