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Showing posts from January, 2011

Breaking News: Appeals Court Enjoins Zip Code Requirement & Other Updates Regarding NJ Litigation

Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, based in Philadelphia, temporarily enjoined New Jersey from enforcing a state law requiring gift card issuers to obtain the zip code from the purchaser or owner at the time of purchase. As we noted earlier, the district court responsible for overseeing the New Jersey litigation ruled last week that the zip code requirement could be enforced.  The card issuers involved in the New Jersey gift card litigation then appealed the lower court's ruling regarding the Zip Code Requirement to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.  New Jersey has already appealed the district court's  earlier ruling preventing the state from (1) imposing a presumption that cards sold in New Jersey are escheatable to New Jersey and (2) requiring merchants to escheat the cash value of merchandise only gift cards issued prior to the effective date of the act. Note that this is only a preliminary decision by the appellate court.  A

Unclaimed Property Meeting in San Antonio (No, not the UPPO Conference)

Soon, more than 500 people will come to San Antonio, Texas to discuss current issues relating to unclaimed property.  Yes, the 2011 Annual Conference of the Unclaimed Property Professionals' Organization will be in San Antonio this year, but that is not the meeting we mean. According to  MySanAntonio.com , more than 500 descendants of Spanish and Mexican land grantees (e.g., people who were granted land in Texas by the Spanish and Mexican governments prior to Texas' independence) are meeting in San Antonio to request that the Texas Legislature amend the Texas Unclaimed Property Act to allow them receive unclaimed proceeds from mineral rights. Under the Texas Unclaimed Property Act, mineral royalties and related payments are escheatable if unclaimed for 3 years.  In many instances, however, the owners of these lands have died intestate (i.e., without a will) and with no known heirs.  Accordingly, the funds have simply been escheated to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accoun

Exxon Valdez Spill Fund Seeking Over 1,800 Claimants

According to an article  in today's Kodiak Daily Mirror , attorneys who represented the fishermen and other plaintiffs in connection with claims against Exxon resulting from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill have been unable to pay out more than 1800 claims because the claimants (or their heirs) can not be located. If you think that you, or someone you know, may be entitled to funds from this settlement, more information can be found here.

NJ Federal Court Issues Another Ruling on Gift Card Law -- Zip Code Requirement Goes Into Effect February 1

Escheatable has been covering the ongoing litigation  concerning the New Jersey gift card legislation  enacted earlier this summer.  As you may know, the federal court considering the new law enjoined the State from enforcing certain parts of the law , namely (1) a presumption that all gift cards sold in New Jersey were escheatable to New Jersey; and (2) a provision that required merchants to escheat gift cards issued for merchandise only (and prior to the effective date of the act) to the state in cash, notwithstanding that no gift card holder could receive cash from the merchant. When we last left the litigation, however, the parties  disagreed as to whether the new law's requirement that gift card issuers obtain purchaser or owner zip code information is enforceable (the "Zip Code Requirement").  New Jersey took the position that the Zip Code Requirement is unaffected by the injunction, while the issuers believed that the provision can't be enforced. Last wee

Find Your Missing Loonies: Canadian Unclaimed Property Article (with Links)

The Toronto Globe & Mail  published a very comprehensive article  on all the various places that unclaimed property hides north of the border.  The article  provides information for unclaimed property databases maintained by the Bank of Canada (unclaimed bank accounts), Canada Revenue Agency (unclaimed tax refunds), the Office of Bankruptcy, even the Ontario Lottery Commission. As in the U.S., the regulation of unclaimed property in Canada is generally a matter of local (provincal), as opposed to federal, law and differs from province to province.  Some provinces, such as Quebec  and Alberta , have fomalized unclaimed property laws and online databases.  In other provinces, such as British Columbia , the laws are mandatory for some holders, but optional for others.  If you have information concerning unclaimed property laws in other Canadian provinces, feel free to drop us a line.

Washington State Offers Holder Workshops

Throughout the year, the Washington Department of Revenue offers a variety of educational workshops for holders of unclaimed property.  The workshops are designed to increase holder awareness of unclaimed property requirements in an effort to make the process easier for holders (and to make sure that the state gets to take custody of all the money to which its entitled).  Currently, the state has announced plans to offer three separate workshops (descriptions taken verbatim from DoR website): Unclaimed Property Basics 101 This free workshop provides reporting basics for accounting employees new to unclaimed property or anyone who would like to refresh their knowledge of this specialized area. Topics include: History of unclaimed property Purpose and benefits of the Act Common property types Dormancy periods Due diligence requirements and tips Preparing your report – when, where, and how Common reporting and remitting errors Electronic reporting Developing an effective

California: Unclaimed Property Notice at Account Opening

A reminder to our banking and financial institution friends in California of new requirements effective January 1:  Pursuant to Section 1315.5 of the California Code of Civil Procedure , banks and financial institutions must now provide customers with written notice -- at the opening of the account -- "informing the person that his or her property may be transferred to the appropriate state if no activity occurs in the account within the time period specified by state law."  This notice may be provided electronically if the customer has consented to receiving electronic notices or account statements.

$33 Million Available for Veterans and Their Families

Beginning in 1917 during World War I, the U.S. government has  provided life insurance  to soldiers, sailors and marines.  Originally intended to provide insurance against the loss of ships and cargo prior to America's involvement in World War I, the War Risk Insurance Act  was thereafter amended to allow the federal government, through the Department of Veterans' Affairs , to offer life insurance to members of the armed services. According to the VA insurance website , over 93% of those eligible during WWI took the coverage (up to $10,000) and these programs were continued through each succeeding war and major conflict.  As with other types of insurance, however, a substantial amount of the policies remain unclaimed.  According to an article  on ABCnews.com, at least $33 million in unclaimed insurance proceeds remain with the VA, most of which dates back to World War II.  Veterans, or their families, can check  if they are eligible through the VA website .

New Jersey Gift Card Requirements Extended to February 1st

We continue to follow the constantly evolving news regarding New Jersey's attempts to regulate gift cards. As many of you know, gift cards that have been dormant for 2 years are now subject to the reporting and delivery requirements on the NJ Unclaimed Property Act. Other parts of the legislation, which took effect this summer, remain unsettled and the subject of federal litigation between numerous trade groups and the state treasurer. For example, one provision of the law that sought to create a legal presumption that all cards sold in NJ were sold to NJ residents ( the "Location Presumption") has been enjoined by the federal court until further notice. The fate of another provision of the law - requiring card issuers to obtain the purchasers' zip code at the time of purchase - remains unsettled. The parties to the litigation disagree as to whether the court's previous ruling stopping the Location Presumption also applies to the zip code requirement, and both si

UPPO to Host "Unclaimed Property 101"

The Unclaimed Property Professionals' Organization - the primary education and advocacy group for holders of unclaimed property is offering a webinar on January 20, 2011 titled "Unclaimed Property 101 ."  The webinar is designed for those who are new to unclaimed property and will explore the basic principles, priority rules, property types, and reporting requirements of state unclaimed property laws. The session is free for UPPO members, and $49 for non-members.  Registration information can be found at the link above.

Unclaimed Art and its Proceeds

We mentioned recently that some states specifically earmark unclaimed funds for particular uses, such as education .  According to a recent article on Wicked Local , a bill pending in Massachusetts would set aside the proceeds from the Abandoned Property Division's auction of unclaimed "creative and individual works of art" for an Artists Disaster and Emergency Aid Fund to "ensure the safety and vitality of artists residing in the Commonwealth."  Though Wicked Local included this pending legislation in its listing of the most unusual bills filed during the most recent legislative session, unclaimed art and royalties is a real issue.  We've covered earlier some of the controversies involving the Screen Actors Guild and unclaimed television and movie royalties.  More recently, New York Magazine  published a brief story  indicating that Sound Exchange , a performance rights organization that collects royalties on behalf of music artists, has in excess of $1

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year from all of us here at Escheatable! Just a reminder, starting today, you can once again freely pick up pecans that have fallen onto public walkways in Georgia.