Monday, April 21, 2014

Missouri Considers "Holder-Friendly" Unclaimed Property Legislation

Last week, a unclaimed property bill was introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives that would make significant, and holder friendly, changes to the Missouri Unclaimed Property Act. According to the El Dorado Springs Sun, which recently posted an article about the proposed legislation, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce & Industry is backing the bill, claiming that it "would take Missouri from the bottom four states in the rankings to one of the top 10 states for fair treatment of business unclaimed property.”  

The proposed bill addresses three issues frequently requested on holder wish-lists for unclaimed property administration.  In particular, the proposed legislation would provide the following features:
  • Business-to-Business Exemption -- Bill 1075 would create a business-to-business exemption for items between business associations that have an ongoing customer relationship.  Specifically, the proposed exemption provides that items "issued to a business entity or association as part of a commercial transaction in the ordinary course of a holder's business shall not be presumed abandoned if the holder and such business entity or association have an ongoing business relationship."
  • Three Year Statute of Limitations -- One of the most frequent holder complaints about state unclaimed property laws is the fact that the audit period can go back many years, if not decades.  The proposed Missouri legislation, by contrast, would limit the enforcement statute of limitations, in most cases, to three years from the date of filing the report.
  • Appeals Process -- Finally, the bill would create an appeals process to allow holders to challenge adverse determinations made by the Administrator.
 The bill is still in the very early stages of consideration.  We will continue to follow its progress as updates are warranted.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Miss the UPPO Annual Conference? Get the Top 5 Takeaways at April 22 Webinar

The Unclaimed Property Professionals' Organization recently held its annual conference in Grapevine, Texas.  Bringing together hundreds of holders, service providers, and other industry professionals, the UPPO conference is a great place for continuing education, networking, and learning the most recent trends and issues in unclaimed property compliance.  If you couldn't make it to Texas, the UPPO is hosting a webinar on April 22 to go over the "Top 5 Takeways" from the conference.  The presentation will cover
  • Latest UPPO organizational developments;
  • A presentation seeking to clarify a number of the ambiguities of unclaimed property compliance;
  • The special compliance issues arising from unclaimed property law in the insurance industry;
  • Recent unclaimed property developments in Canada;
  • Potential future amendments to the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act.
Registration information can be found here.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Lost + Found: States Release New Lists of Unclaimed Property & Georgia Critiqued

Massachusetts Releases Unclaimed Property List . . .  -- Massachusetts State Treasurer Steven Grossman recently announced the release of the Bay State's most recent list of unclaimed properties.  According to the press release, the list contains 45,000 new properties in excess of $100 million collected by the Department during the last six months.  The new list also includes some $20 million in unclaimed life insurance policies discovered during recent audits.

. . . and Nebraska Too -- According to an article in the Lincoln Journal Star the Nebraska State Treasury is preparing to publish the names of an additional 35,000 unclaimed property owners in Husker State newspapers during March and April.

CBS46 Atlanta:  Georgia Not Doing Enough to Reunite Owners With Funds -- We've spent a fair amount of time recently addressing state efforts to reunite owners with their property.  According to a series of special reports by the local CBS affiliate, Georgia is not doing enough to make outreach efforts to owners.  According to the article, the state doesn't publish owner names, hasn't issued a press release in years, and doesn't use social media.  The whole series of articles is well worth a read.



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

West Virginia Adds More Unclaimed Property to State Website

The Office of the West Virginia State Treasurer has announced recent policy changes that increase the amount of unclaimed property appearing on the state's website (and, thus, available for online searches).  According to the Treasury's press release, the threshold for listing property on the website has been reduced from $50 to $25.  The same release notes that the department is soon to release an additional 13,000 items that are being held by the state for West Virginia residents.  Kudos to the Mountaineer State for making efforts to reunite more owners with their property.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Unclaimed Property's "Second Season" Has Begun

Welcome to unclaimed property's "second" (but no less important) season - the Spring reporting period.  In the vast majority of states (approximately 40), unclaimed property reports are due in the fall (October 31 or November 1) for all property deemed abandoned as of the previous summer (June 30 or July 1).  While that crush of reports may create anxious times for unclaimed property professionals, the sizable minority of Spring reporting states contains some heavy hitters.  Among the spring states are (dates are for general corporations - life insurers and other entities may have other dates):

Connecticut - reports due March 31
Delaware - reports due March 1
Florida - reports due April 30
Illinois - reports due April 30
New York - many reports due March 10
Pennsylvania - reports due April 15
Tennessee - reports due April 30
Vermont - reports due April 30

Moreover, given the recent changes to some states' unclaimed property laws, there will be precious little time to breath a sigh of relief after the Spring reporting period ends and the "Summer" reporting period (which did not exist a few years ago) begins in Michigan and Texas.