(TRENTON) –New Jersey returned a near-record amount of unclaimed property and assets during the fiscal year that just ended, according to State Treasurer Elizabeth Maher Muoio, with a total of $142.6 million returned to 50,837 rightful owners and heirs in FY 2018.
New Jersey’s Unclaimed Property Administration (UPA), which falls under the purview of the Department of the Treasury, noted that this is the second highest amount ever returned in a fiscal year. Of the $142 million-plus returned in FY 2018, the claim with the largest dollar amount was over $3.6 million.
“I want to commend our Unclaimed Property Administration for their exhaustive efforts to reunite owners with abandoned assets,” said Treasurer Muoio. “They work extensively all year long with local communities and seniors, in particular, to try and return any amount, large or small, to which they may be entitled. This is the ultimate public service and often provides a much-welcomed financial assist."
Since the program’s inception, the UPA has returned approximately $1.73 billion dollars to rightful owners or heirs.
Under the law, businesses such as financial institutions, insurance companies, utility companies and others are required to annually report the assets of accounts which are deemed abandoned (i.e. are dormant or have had no activity for a specified amount of time). Prior to the establishment of New Jersey’s Unclaimed Property laws, banks and corporations would typically absorb abandoned bank accounts and uncashed checks. Current law requires businesses to turn this property over to the state following the period of dormancy and New Jersey acts as the custodian until the property is returned to the rightful owners or their heirs. Property owners never relinquish the right to their property and the State is required to hold the assets in perpetuity until the owner or heir claims the property.
“Our ultimate goal is consumer protection,” said Steve Harris, Unclaimed Property Administrator. “Each year, millions of dollars in personal assets are lost or abandoned in New Jersey and we are committed to ensuring that we reunite as many owners as possible with their rightful assets. We understand that every little bit helps, but regardless, it’s our duty and we take it seriously.”
UPA conducts extensive outreach throughout the year to help reunite owners with unclaimed assets through initiatives that include mass mailings and participation at various public events and locations throughout the state, such as local fairs, community centers and senior centers. In total, UPA’s Outreach Unit attended 67 events in FY 2018.
Additionally, the Outreach Unit conducts an annual legislative district project, partnering with legislators from all 40 districts to send mailers to their constituents in an attempt to reach the nearly 20,000 New Jersey residents for whom the UPA is holding property.
The UPA also publishes the names and addresses of abandoned property owners twice a year in a newspaper of general circulation in each county throughout the State. The upcoming August advertisement is expected to contain the names of approximately 165,800 New Jersey residents whose property with a monetary value of $100 or more was remitted to the State in FY2018.
UPA encourages all New Jersey residents to determine if the State is holding property on their behalf by accessing the State’s online searchable database at: www.unclaimedproperty.nj.gov.