Showing posts from November, 2011

Unclaimed Property News Roundup:

Big Badger State Reclaim -- Who says that unclaimed property can only be a modest amount of money?  According to the Chicago Tribune , one Wisconsin woman received nearly a quarter of a million dollars in unclaimed municipal bonds from the Wisconsin Department of Treasury. Louisiana to Release Annual Unclaimed Property List -- According to NBC 33 News in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, State Treasurer John Kennedy will release the newest list of unclaimed property owners in the Pelican State .  Kenyan Unclaimed Property Law Awaiting Presidential Approval -- According to The Standard of Nairobi, Kenya , that country's proposed Unclaimed Financial Assets Bill is awaiting sign off by Kenya's President.  As we noted earlier , the proposed law is very broad in scope and appears to be based upon the Uniform Unclaimed Property Acts in use in the United States. Pennsylvania Luring Holiday Shoppers -- Fox 43 (Harrisburg, PA) , is reporting that Pennsylvania State Treasurer Rob McCord

A New Jersey Gift Card Update

Regular readers (Hi Mom!) know that we've been following the progress of New Jersey's recent gift card legislation from the State Assembly , to the Treasury Department , and, ultimately, to the courts .   When we last left our story, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit enjoined (in English, temporarily suspended) application of parts of the new law, pending a decision by that Court.  That case has been argued, and is currently under consideration by the court -- meaning that a decision can come at any time.  Of course, the timing of the ruling could be important because the holidays are a particularly busy time for gift card sellers. According to a recent article in NJ Biz , the President of the NJ Retail Merchants Association (one of the plaintiffs in the underlying lawsuit) has gone on record indicating that he does not expect the challenged gift card laws to be in force during the holiday shopping season.  (For detail as to which parts of the law were enjoi

Washington State Looks to Generate Revenue By Selling Others' Stocks

The Washington State Department of Revenue recently published a proposal to immediately convert securities to cash upon receipt by the DOR.  As the proposal indicates, the current law requires DOR to wait at least three years before selling stocks that are reported as unclaimed property.  The Department anticipates that it will incur $1.3 million in commissions and fee payments to sell the stocks in connection with this "revenue generating" activity. Assuming that the stocks are sold at market value, how will this increase revenue (especially in light of the commissions apparently charged by DOR's stockbrokers)?  Well, while unclaimed securities are reported to the custody of the state, the state can't use those shares as general revenue (you can't build roads or schools with shares of stock).  By selling the stock immediately, the state is hoping to use the money immediately (while paying the sale price -- less fees -- to the owner). This is an example of pa

Examples of Unclaimed Property: Uncashed Checks, Dormant Accounts, Suitcases Full of Cash

Gone are the days when unclaimed property laws applied only to dormant bank accounts and unredeemed insurance policies.  Today's laws are increasingly broad, and apply to nearly every type of property you can imagine (and, by virtue of the catch-all "all other property" provision, even some types of property you can't imagine). Nonetheless, there does not seem to be any provision of the Australian unclaimed property laws that expressly cover suitcases containing "roughly $1.28 million in $50 bills."  According to  Yahoo's blog The Sideshow, that's exactly what someone left in a Sydney cafe on Tuesday.  Police are investigating. Happy  Thanksgiving to our U.S. readers.  As well as a happy St. George's Day , Labor Thanksgiving Day , and Dan Državnosti elsewhere.

New Quebec Unclaimed Property Act

While our focus here is generally on U.S. escheat laws, there is a whole developing world of unclaimed property regulation out there.  In Canada, for example, certain provinces have unclaimed property laws, while others do not.  One of the provinces that does is Quebec , which passed a new unclaimed property law this summer.  The new law applies to a variety of property types, including bank deposits, checks (actually, cheques ),  securities,  demutualization proceeds,  trust property,  property held in safe deposit boxes, insurance proceeds, pension funds, and other property to be determined by regulation Most of these items are subject to a 3 year dormancy period.  The new law also provides for audits and penalties for noncompliance.

Unclaimed Property News Roundup:

Illinois Launches "Operation Reunite" For Veterans -- According to the Chicago Sun-Times , Illinois State Treasurer Dan Rutherford has commenced a new initiative to return medals and other military items to veterans.  According to the article , the Illinois Treasurer has over 200 military items, including 15 Purple Hearts , a Navy Cross , and other awards and artifacts.  For more information on Operation Reunite, check out the Treasurer's website . Wisconsin Collects $20 Million --  According to the blog of the Wisconsin State Treasury, the Badger State raked in more than $20 million during the past reporting period.  Interestingly, the Treasury also produced this video to assist holders with the reporting process. New Yorker Missing $1.7 Million -- Nina Pineda of Channel 7 "Eyewitness News" in New York City recently published an article (with video) about unclaimed property held by the New York State Office of Unclaimed Funds.  According to the articl

Meet Your (New) Escheators - Unclaimed Property Related Election Results

Tuesday was election day.  While there were not many well publicized or nationally watched races this year, there were nonetheless some elections that will have an effect on unclaimed property administration. Specifically, two states -- Kentucky and Mississippi -- held elections for State Treasurer (which, in both states runs the unclaimed property office). In Kentucky, incumbent  Todd Hollenbach won reelection to another term.  If Mr. Hollenbach's name sounds familiar, it is because he was the named defendant in the lawsuit brought by American Express challenging Kentucky's decision to shorten the dormancy period for travelers checks to 7 years down from 15. In Mississippi,  Lynn Fitch was elected to be the next State Treasurer. Louisiana was also originally slated to have an election for State Treasurer this year, but incumbent John Neely Kennedy was unopposed.

Unclaimed Property News Roundup

Some miscellaneous items while you're still basking in you post-fall reporting freedom: Delaware Publishes Unclaimed Property Owner List -- On October 28, Delaware  published its most recent list of unclaimed property being held by the state.  As we noted  last year at this time, because of Delaware's interpretation of the priority rules of Texas v. New Jersey (in particular, that foreign-owned property held by Delaware incorporated entities is escheatable to Delaware) this is probably bigger news to large non-U.S. companies than it necessarily is for Delaware residents. Oklahoma Publishes FY 2011 Reclaim Stats -- Oklahoma has recently published a chart showing the amounts it paid in FY 2011.  According to the information the state paid out amounts as little as $0.03 and at least one claim in excess of $1 million.  While total reclaim dollar amounts were not disclosed the unclaimed property department of the Sooner State apparently paid out on more than 12,000 claims i

New York Regulators Team Up to Investigate Unpaid Life Insurance Benefits & A Scorecard Update

According to an article in Friday's Wall Street Journal , the NY Attorney General's Office (the state's highest ranking law enforcement official) and the NY Comptroller's Office (the regulator responsible for administering the state's unclaimed property laws) are both investigating the Empire State's life insurance companies to determine whether death benefits are being paid on a timely basis.  As we mentioned in July, the controversy revolves around the insurers' use (or, more to the point, alleged non-use) of the macabre sounding "Social Security Death Index" to determine whether or not life insurance benefits have become payable.  Though state laws generally do not explicitly require the use of the SSN index, some regulators have complained that insurers use the SSN Index to stop paying annuities (i.e., products that pay out until death), but don't use that same information with regard to the payment of life insurance benefits (i.e., those

What Have We Learned?

Congratulations!  Another fall reporting cycle is completed.  For many (if not most) there was likely a mad dash at the finish to incorporate items from new or changed business units, new reporting and/or administrative procedures, and efforts to comply with updated or changed laws.  Everyone in the unclaimed property holder reporting business is certainly entitled to a rest.  (Though for those of you who work for states, your work is just beginning). Now that you have a moment to breathe, it is also time to take stock of your process and consider how improvements can be made to streamline and/or improve the process for next year.  Perhaps in the rush to meet reporting deadlines, you had discussions with contacts in management, or the legal department, or risk management, who now have an idea (perhaps for the first time) of what you do for the company.  Since you are on the radar, now is the time to request whatever assistance you may need to make your process better.  Similarly, you