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There are billions of dollars in unclaimed property here in Massachusetts.

You could be the rightful owner of a forgotten savings account, stocks and bonds, or even a salary.

Massachusetts holds more than $2 billion in unclaimed dollars and there's a 25 percent chance that some of it is yours.

Western Mass News requested data on all of it from the state and that produced more than 14 million rows in a spreadsheet.

Mark William Bracken, Assistant State Treasurer for the Unclaimed Property Division said the most common unclaimed property is found in bank accounts. "A lot of time it's people move and they forget about it," said Bracken. No matter how much you're owed, whether it's a million dollars or one cent, you can claim it.

About 20 percent of the state's unclaimed property belongs those who have died. "The money gets turned over to us and we hold it forever. If you pass away while we hold the money, your heirs get to come forward to claim the money," Bracken explained. Western Mass News scrolled through data, cold-called people listed, and then we got John Stevens on the phone.

His late father, who is also named John Stevens, has more than $14,000 sitting in a Berkshire Bank account. "My dad was pretty thorough in taking care of his estate before he passed but, with that being said, he had money here, there and everywhere. Ever since my mom passed, my dad was getting ready to die himself. He wrote his own obituary, he consolidated his funds, he sold his property to my brothers and I," Stevens said. So what does someone like John do to secure what's rightfully his?

He needs a death certificate, a photo copy is just fine, a copy of the court appointment naming him the beneficiary check,and a proof of his tax identification number. The process can take anywhere from three weeks to six months, but what if no one ever claims the money? "The state does spend the money," Bracken noted. The return from the Unclaimed Property Division is turned over to the state's general fund each year. "It's being spent on education. It's being spent on health care," Bracken added. "We always hold the liability on our book so people can always come forward and claim that money," said Bracken. So, no matter what, there is no deadline. "There's always money coming in the door so there's always enough." To find out if you have unclaimed property, you can conduct a simple search online by visiting this link here.

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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