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.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Well, That's Different

In recent years, there have been a number of instances where states have proposed (and sometimes ultimately enacted) laws to change the "dormancy period" for various types of property.  For those still new to unclaimed property law, the dormancy period is the statutorily defined period of time before a "holder" (the entity in possession of the property) may hold it before it must be reported and delivered to the state.  For example, if a state prescribes a three year dormancy period for bank accounts, that generally means that if the account owner engages in no activity in the bank account (e.g., deposits, withdrawals) for three years, the bank must report and deliver the property to the state.

Because shortening the dormancy period has the effect of allowing the state to take custody of unclaimed property sooner, states have frequently resorted to shortening the dormancy periods for unclaimed property to generate more revenue.  For example, Michigan shortened the dormancy period for nearly all property types from 5 years to 3 years.  According to the Michigan House Fiscal Agency this change was projected to result in increased revenue to the state in excess of $200 million.

Against this backdrop, it is little surprise to see that there is a bill pending in the Illinois General Assembly that, if enacted, would change the dormancy period for most property types.  But, there's a twist - House Bill 5823 would actually lengthen the dormancy period for most property types under Illinois law, from 5 years to 8 years.  There is no accompanying legislative report or recommendation (as yet) explaining the rationale for the proposal, but the longer dormancy period would conceivably cut down on the amount of non-unclaimed property that gets swept up into state coffers.