Thursday, December 29, 2011

Unclaimed Property News Roundup: From East to West

Delaware Raises Revenue Forecast - The State of Delaware's earnings continue to outperform, according to Delaware Online, in no small part due to the state's unclaimed property receipts.  According to the article, Delaware's estimates were boosted by, among other things, a $10 million collection from a single holder.  The article also contains an ominous note from the deputy finance secretary, who was quoted as saying that the scope of unclaimed property audits are "increasing."

Washington Securities Sale Measure Passes - Moving west:  a few weeks ago, we mentioned a Washington State proposal that would allow that state's Division of Revenue to immediately liquidate securities received as unclaimed property (under the previous law, the state had to wait 3 years).  According to the Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization, that measure has passed.

Northern Mariana Islands Pass Unclaimed Property Law -- Moving even further west, the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. Commonwealth in the South Pacific, has taken steps to pass an unclaimed property law..  According to the Saipan Tribune, the Commonwealth's legislature recently passed a law that "allows the government to have access to dormant and inactive bank accounts and unclaimed funds."  The bill is now pending with the Governor.

We will be taking off until next week.  Happy New Year!

Monday, December 26, 2011

WSJ Article on Unused Gift Cards

Gift cards are generally a big topic in the unclaimed property community, but especially so during the holidays.  According to an article in the Wall Street Journal there is approximately $41 billion (with a "b") in unspent gift card funds from 2005 to 2011.  The article also notes the states' claims for these funds under the unclaimed property laws as well as their use of the funds until the true owner makes a claim (which, of course, is hardly ever).




Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Biggest. Claim. Ever.

According to Good Morning America, (which, incidentally, has run a number of features on unclaimed property, see here, here, and here) is reporting that a Missouri resident is about to receive the largest unclaimed property payout ever - amounting to $6.1 million.  According to GMA's research, the $6.1 million might be the biggest unclaimed property owner payment in history. 

The obvious question you may be asking is how in the world did someone misplace $6.1 million?  Actually, they didn't.  According to the article, the funds represent stock that was reported to the state "generations" ago, and continued to grow. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Unclaimed Property News Roundup: More Life Insurance Disputes, Missouri Gift Card Reminder and UK "Heir Hunters"

Life Insurance Update - NAIC and NCOIL Disagree:  We continue the twists and turns regarding the state investigations into unclaimed life insurance proceeds.  This latest disagreement doesn't involve any insurers, but rather is a squabble between two government interests organizations.  According to an article in LifeHealthPro, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (the interest group representing state regulators) and the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (representing lawmakers) are the focus of a dispute concerning how to resolve the investigations.  If you are interested in more information regarding these investigations check out the article here.

MO State Treasurer Offers Holiday Tips Regarding Gift Cards:  Missouri State Treasurer Clint Zweifel (no stranger to these pages) is telling Missouri residents to hold on to their expired gift cards.  According to KSDK.com, Zweifel is urging Missourians to check the state unclaimed property list for the value of expired or unused gift cards.  According to the article, Missouri returned over $100,000 in abandoned gift cards over the past year.

"My Supermodel Inheritance" -- Vincent Graff of Radio Times (UK) has a story based upon the BBC television program "Heir Hunters".  According to the story, which can be found here, a woman in England was located as the heir to the estate of a post-WWII fashion model.  The article also has some information on the UK's "bona vacantia" laws (which are similar to the unclaimed property laws of the states).  Perhaps more interesting, from an unclaimed property standpoint at least, is the "Heir Hunters" show itself which, according to the BBC website "follow[s] the work of heir hunters, probate detectives looking for distant relatives of people who have died without making a will."  No word on whether CSI:  Unclaimed Property Division is also in the works.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Breaking News: Michigan Offering Unclaimed Property Amnesty in For A Short Time

A few months ago, Michigan made sweeping amendments to its unclaimed property laws.  The new laws shortened the dormancy period for most property types from 5 years to 3 years.  In addition, Michigan moved from a fall reporting state to a  spring summer state.  This year's report is due on or before July 1 of each year for the 12 month period ending on the immediately preceding March 31.

Now that they have your attention, Michigan is now offering a limited time voluntary disclosure program for holders who have never reported unclaimed property (or have underreported unclaimed property) to the state.  Pursuant to the program, interested holders must enroll by January 31, 2012, and will have until July 1 to file a report for the current report year and the four previous report years.  In return, the state will agree to waive the interest and penalties that may otherwise be assessed for the late reporting or remittance of property.

If you are a Michigan-incorporated entity, do a lot of business in Michigan, or simply want to turn over some undelivered property to the state, you may wish to consider the Michigan VDA.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

ABC News: IRS Has Nearly 100,000 Unclaimed Refunds

Private corporations are not the only ones who wind up with uncashed checks.  According to an article on abcnews.com, the Internal Revenue Service is holding unclaimed refunds for nearly 100,000 taxpayers, totaling more than $150 million.  According to the IRS press release announcing the unclaimed refunds, the IRS recommends that taxpayers sign up for the direct deposit of refunds in order to reduce address discrepancies and other refund errors.

If you think you might be missing an IRS refund, you can check by visiting the "Where's My Refund" page on the IRS's website here.