New Jersey is in possession of more than $5 billion that doesn't actually belong to the Garden State, and never will.

Some of that unclaimed cash may belong to you, and getting your hands on it is as simple as searching for your name on a state-run website.

"There's millions of records out there," said Steve Harris, Unclaimed Property Administrator. "The majority of property that's reported to us is unclaimed saving accounts, checking accounts, CDs."

By law, accounts at banks and other companies are required to hand over to the state assets that have been dormant for years. This could include uncashed checks, or stock certificates.

If searching your own name returns no results, you could also benefit from searching for the names of family members who've passed away — those who've taken over one's estate could now be in line for a surprise windfall.

"We always encourage people, when they lose a loved one, to check our website three years after that person has passed, to see if any property is reported to us," Harris said.

There's no deadline on claiming this property; New Jersey isn't waiting to take hold of your unclaimed assets. Under state statute, property owners never relinquish the right to their property.

Because this property has belonged to you the whole time, it is not considered taxable income once it's claimed.

According to Harris, the program is holding close to $5.3 billion in unclaimed property. To date, the program has returned more than $2 billion to rightful owners.

"We've paid claims over $1 million, and we've paid claims that were $1.20," he said.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at

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