Posts Tagged ‘state unclaimed property’

Residents of the Garden State pay some of the highest property taxes in the country- as much as twice the amount paid by residents in the other states. Once can’t help but wonder then why a significant number of NJ homeowners have neglected to claim their property tax rebates. Quite puzzling specially during times like these. A WCBS news report says 200,000 Garden State dwellers have NJ unclaimed money from property tax refunds worth a whopping $200 million! You think that’s a lot? That’s only a fraction of the total New Jersey unclaimed money pile in the State Treasury owed to 1.3 million people!

Aside from tax rebates, New Jersey unclaimed money comes from comes from numerous other sources like forgotten bank accounts, uncashed salary checks, insurance benefits, stocks and bonds that have been languishing, unused gift checks, even items from abandoned safe deposit boxes. People, specially if they’ve been working numerous jobs and have had several addresses tend to lose track of mailed checks or notices from banks and financial institutions. Businesses and companies that haven’t located the owners of lost money and property after a ‘dormancy period’ have to hand them over to the State for ‘safekeeping’ as stipulated in the National Unclaimed Property Law. The citizens’ lost money is kept in the State Treasury until the rightful owners come around to file a claim. The State also holds outreach programs to try to let people know about New Jersey unclaimed funds. Last year, the NJ State Treasury unclaimed property advertising campaign reunited some 36,000 residents with $85 million of their missing money.

The economic conditions in the US is a bit gloomy right now and the fact that there is an estimated $33 billion worth of State unclaimed property across the country is quite ludicrous if you think about it. Fact is, not enough people are checking for unclaimed funds because most Americans aren’t even aware they might have state unclaimed property in their name. Doing an online unclaimed money search can do wonders for Americans whose wallets have been yearning for contents during these tough economic times.

A jade necklace, assorted jewelry, a diamond-encrusted Buddha figurine- these are some of the family heirlooms that Nora Wang thought she had lost forever. A short while after receiving an overseas call from her son (she’s now based in Taiwan), the 60ish Chinese immigrant joyously finds out the priceless heirlooms that have been passed-down through her grandmother still remains with her family. This according to a report in the Rocky Mountain News.

“The Great Colorado Payback” is a program run by the State Treasurer’s office aiming to reunite Colorado unclaimed money and property to its rightful owners. Residents that have lost track of their financial assets through forgetfulness, change of address, death, etc. Nora Wang lost track of her safe deposit box when her bank’s ownership changed hands and she moved to Taiwan from the U.S.

Right now, the Colorado unclaimed money pile has grown to $50 million from unclaimed property collected throughout the State. The National Unclaimed Property Law, to keep citizens from losing their financial assets altogether, requires businesses and financial institutions to hand over dormant and idle accounts, uncashed checks, insurance policies, forgotten stocks and bonds and the like to the State. Tangible unclaimed property are auctioned-off if the State can’t find the owners after a while, so Wang was very fortunate not to have had her family jewels converted to Colorado unclaimed money.

Wang’s case just shows how important it is for Americans to do an unclaimed property search in all the State Treasuries they may have property in. Knowing how to do a thorough search for unclaimed money can spell cash for Americans during lean times like this.

Most residents of GA State may not be aware about State unclaimed property. If they did, certainly the $684 million Georgia unclaimed property wouldn’t have ballooned to $900 million during the current fiscal year. As mandated by US law, the State collects idle financial assets from various businesses, insurance companies, banks and other financial establishments every year. Financial assets that have been abandoned and whose owners haven’t been located for a a few years are ‘escheated’ to the State as Georgia unclaimed property. Here’s part of an article on Georgia unclaimed money written by an unclaimed property expert:

Georgia’s Unclaimed Property Law or escheat law which originates from feudal laws in England require abandoned and forgotten assets such as bank accounts, income tax refunds, uncashed checks, uncollected wages, insurance premium overpayments, gift certificates, cash dividends on stocks and mineral deposits, and others to be turned-over to the hands of the state after a specified ‘dormancy period’. This period for Georgia is 5 years and less for other financial assets.”

Escheat laws were passed to protect citizens’ lost money– giving the State responsibility for the safekeeping of residents’ unclaimed money and property lest the financial entities holding them keep it for themselves. Some criticize that some States are seizing citizens’ unclaimed funds for the purpose of balancing their budgets. “When they are used the way they were intended, which is as a mechanism to help reunite property owners with their lost or abandoned property, then I think they’re a good thing,” says Atlanta lawyer John Coalson who specializes in Georgia unclaimed money. “When they’re used as a means for states to simply raise money, then I think states ought to call a tax ‘a tax’ and not just take people’s property.”

Whichever way the State uses citizens’ unclaimed property, there’s no question that more residents should check if they are owed part of the $900 million GA unclaimed money pie.

Atlanta resident and grade school teacher Sheila Sellers found out she had lost money in her name. She got a letter from the GA Department of Revenue informing her of a substantial amount of cash- $1700 from old stocks and a forgotten bank account from out of state. “Right in time for Christmas. I plan on being out the day after Thanksgiving,” said Sellers in a WGCL News report.

Other residents may want to check themselves too. Almost a billion dollars unclaimed money means good odds of coming up with something. All they have to do is go online to do a search for unclaimed money.

Residents of Arkansas would be interested to know that the State’s annual revenues are 5.6 percent higher than the previous year’s- making a jump from $19.6 million to $20.9 million. Why in the world would residents find this interesting?  Well it’s because the revenue increase was brought about by a boost in the amount of Arkansas unclaimed money from assets they’ve lost track of.

Each year the state collects abandoned bank accounts, uncollected salary checks, insurance benefits, languishing stocks and bonds and similar assets held by banks and businesses state-wide. The National Unclaimed Property Law requires financial entities to turn these over to the government after a specified dormancy period of usually 3-5 years. Tangible items from safe deposit boxes are also turned over to the Treasury and these have included two Roman coins that dates back to the time of Jesus and 600 ounces of pure gold coins belonging to an elderly widow. Her late husband apparently died a week after leaving the 600 South African Krugerrands in a bank.

In Arkansas, unclaimed money goes into the State’s General fund until its rightful owners come along. $23 million was added to the AK unclaimed money pile this year and around 5,000 residents have over $375 in their name.

State unclaimed money piles are getting bigger across the U.S. because citizens aren’t aware about their missing money. Most of the ones that know about it never bother to do an unclaimed property search thinking it’s too much of a hassle and the amount of their unclaimed money in State hands isn’t worth the effort. Well, quite true- if you didn’t know how and where to look. Doing a proper online search using tips from an unclaimed property expert can spell a significant amount of extra cash for a lot of people. Over $30 billion national unclaimed funds are waiting for the rightful owners right now. Ironically, these people are too busy making ends meet and are oblivious about their missing money.

Watch this interesting news report showing people finding their lost money: