Thursday, June 27, 2013

Lost + Found: NC Holder Seminar, WV Lawsuits, Bona Vacantia in the UK

North Carolina to Offer Holder Education Seminar -- The North Carolina Treasurer's Department is offering a "Holder Education and Reporting" seminar on July 17th at the Quorum Center in Raleigh.  A complete copy of the agenda, and registration information, can be found here.  The seminar is free, but according to the website, limited to the first 150 registrants.

West Virginia Sues Insurers  -- In October of 2012, West Virginia sued 10 insurers over their attempts (or lack thereof) to notify beneficiaries of payable benefits.  Now, according to an article on LifeHealthPro, West Virginia has brought suit against 69 more insurers alleging violations of that state's unclaimed property act.  According to the article, insurers were identified by market share.

UK Bona Vacantia Pot Doubles in Past Year -- As we've mentioned before, modern US unclaimed property laws have their source in the old common law doctrine of bona vacantia ("ownerless goods").  Historically, the most typical example of such goods are the assets of a person who dies without a will or any known heirs.  In the UK, this common law doctrine is still alive and well.
Indeed, almost too well - according to a recent blog post on the UK edition of the Huffington Post, the mount of funds held on account of estates with no wills or known heirs in the UK has doubled in the past year to about 33.5 million Pounds (appx. $51.2 million). 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Reminder: Texas and Michigan Reports Due July 1

Up until a few years ago, unclaimed property reporting was pretty well divided into two different "seasons."  The "Fall" reports (in a majority of state), which were generally due on October 31 or November 1; and the "Spring" reports (in a minority of states, but including such notables as Delaware and New York), which were generally due in the March to May timeframe.*

In the past few years, possibly in response to a desire to increase revenue, a few states moved their unclaimed property reporting and remittance dates to July.  In particular, the reporting deadline in Michigan is now July 1 for property reaching its dormancy period as of March 31.  Likewise, in Texas, unclaimed property reports are likewise due on July 1.

Thus, make sure that you don't forget about the "Summer" states as well.

* The dates above are the "general" reporting dates for most companies.  In many states, life insurers and other holders might have holder-specific deadlines.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

WSJ on the Delaware Dichotomy

We recently featured an editorial that ran in Investors Business Daily (and other places) in which the President of the Council on State Taxation outlined a number of ways in which Delaware's administration of unclaimed property is not in keeping with its business-friendly image. Those arguments were echoed in  yesterday's Wall Street Journal, which ran an article entitled "Delaware Shows Two Faces" (subscription required).  The article outlines the Delaware Dichotomy:  One the one hand, Delaware has a well entrenched  status as the corporate home of choice for corporate America.  On the other, Delaware is also almost uniformly recognized as the most aggressive (and some would say, overly aggressive) state in claiming "unclaimed" property (which, as the earlier COST editorial pointed out is sometimes not unclaimed property at all).  The whole article is worth a read.

Speaking of Delaware, in a guest article on the Unclaimed Property Professionals' Organization blog, Delaware attorney Brenda Mayrack posts a timely reminder that the clock is ticking for holders wishing to take advantage of the Delaware Secretary of State's Voluntary Disclosure Program.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

More Life Insurers Settle Unclaimed Property Complaints With California

If you have been following the multi-state unclaimed property investigations into life insurers, its time to update your scorecard.  When we left the story, about 10 companies had settled claims or lawsuits relating to their death benefit payment practices.  Generally, the investigation focused on regulators' complaints that many insurers review the Social Security Administration's death records to determine whether an annuity policyholder had died, so they could stop paying annuities (which are paid by the insurer until the policyholder dies), but were not using that same information to notify life insurance beneficiaries that the policyholder had died (and thus, that the beneficiaries were entitled to collect on the policy).  For their part, the insurers generally denied any wrongdoing, but some agreed to revise their policies.  In the interim, a number of states have passed legislation to require life insurers to do periodic checks of their records.

In more recent news, LifeHealthPro reported that 11 more insurers have reached a settlement with the California State Controller's Office to resolve claims over their benefit payment practices.  Details of the settlement, and the companies involved, appear in Arthur Postal's article at LifeHealthPro, but even the general numbers are staggering -- the Controller's office estimates that the value of the recent settlements is worth more than $750 million.