Friday, August 27, 2010

Welcome

Welcome to Escheatable - The Unclaimed Property Blog.

What is unclaimed property? 
Unclaimed property is - as the name suggests - intangible property (e.g., money, a financial account, or a right to payment) that has not been claimed, or has been abandoned, by its rightful owner.  Every state has unclaimed property (sometimes referred to as “abandoned property” or “escheat”) laws.  Pursuant to these laws, corporations, financial institutions, insurance companies, and other business entities are required to turnover unclaimed property to the state after a period of time defined by the law (anywhere from one to 15 years).  Examples of unclaimed property include uncashed checks, unclaimed dividends, stale accounts receivable credits, unused gift cards, unreturned security deposits and many others. Given the varied nature of items that can give rise to unclaimed property, any business that has employees, customers, vendors, or clients probably has unclaimed property to be reported and remitted to the states.

What is escheat?
Escheat referred to the common law doctrine that unclaimed land (e.g., property of a landowner who died without heirs) reverted to the Crown.  A similar concept is bona vacantia ("ownerless goods") pursuant to which ownerless personal property was claimed by the Crown.  The power to take custody of unclaimed lands and ownerless goods devolved to the states after the American Revolution.  Today's state unclaimed property laws represent a type of modern-day exercise of the common law power of bona vacantia.  Notwithstanding the fact that modern unclaimed property laws are a descendant of bona vacantia, many refer to unclaimed property laws as "escheat" laws.

What is Escheatable - The Blog?
This will be a space where we provide updates on recent developments in unclaimed property law and policy.  We plan to post news regarding new unclaimed property legislation, track recent developments, and provide commentary on related topics.

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