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UNCLAIMED PROPERTY FOCUS is a blog written by and for UPPO members, featuring diverse perspectives and insights from unclaimed property practitioners across the U.S. and Canada. We welcome your submissions to Unclaimed Property Focus. Please contact Tim Dressen via tim@uppo.org with any questions about submitting a blog post for consideration and refer to our editorial guidelines when writing your blog post. Disclaimer: Information and/or comments to this blog is not intended as a substitute for legal advice on compliance or reporting requirements.

 

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State Spotlight: Utah Unclaimed Property Division Focuses on Communication and Collaboration

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 14, 2017

Engagement and cooperation with unclaimed property holders are central to the work of the Utah Unclaimed Property Division. Not only does working closely with holders help achieve the division’s primary mission of returning funds to their rightful owner, but it also helps reduce potential confusion throughout the unclaimed property process.

 

Utah was one of the first states to pass a version of the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. S.B. 175, which became effective on May 8, 2017, was the first substantial update to the state’s unclaimed property statute since 1981. A companion law effective at the same time, H.B. 42 updated the state’s life insurance laws, including provisions related to unclaimed life insurance benefits. As part of these changes, the state administrator is responsible for rules regarding administration of the law—a new responsibility for Utah’s administrator.

 

“In Utah, we’ve never had a robust administrative rules function, so that was brand new for us, said Unclaimed Property Administrator Dennis Johnston. “One of the things I’m really engaged in is reaching out to industry and others who are interested in these issues, so we can circulate drafts of proposed rules for comment well before we go through the formalized process of adopting rules.”

 

Working with the insurance and banking industries has been essential to understanding the issues important to those key stakeholders. 

 

“We may not agree with everything, but if we can understand each other and collaborate more on how the wording comes out, we can have less confusing wording and make it more clear and understandable for the people who need to abide by the rules,” Johnston said.

 

Communication is also central to the goals of Utah’s revised unclaimed property statute. Utah’s revised law specifies that owner access of an online account is a valid form of contact. With more transactions and communication occurring electronically, modernizing the state’s statutes to recognize current practices was important.

 

The increasing move to electronic communication also affects how holders file their reports with the state. The statute, rather than policy, now dictates that holder data must be transferred electronically and encrypted. Reports are not accepted in any other format. 

 

“Keeping personal information private was one of the big issues I used to promote passage of the law in our state,” Johnston said. “Privacy is a very important issue. In fact, it’s gotten so much attention that we now sometimes face a credibility gap with owners trying to get them their money back.”

 

When visiting a legitimate website aimed at reuniting property owners with their funds, consumers often think it is the work of a fraudster posing as an unclaimed property administrator. Because the site seeks to confirm their identity by asking for personal information, including names, Social Security numbers and addresses, they worry they are at risk for identity theft.

 

“We have processes in place that are somewhat automated, allowing us to turn around money to those folks within 10 days,” Johnston said. “That’s hard to do if they aren’t willing to share their identifying information. So, we’re trying to build people’s confidence that they’re using a legitimate website.”

 

In addition to clearing up skepticism from property owners, the Utah Unclaimed Property Division hopes to remove misperceptions about the office’s role within the state.

 

“There are rumors of states leaning on unclaimed property to fill budget deficits,” Johnston said. “That has never been the case in Utah, and it won’t be for the foreseeable future. I have never had any pressure from anyone to reduce the amount of money I’m paying out to claimants or to accelerate my collection from holders to satisfy a budget shortfall. I think that’s probably been a misnomer in many states. Our mission is to receive, manage and return unclaimed property to the rightful owner, and that’s how we approach our work.”

 

Johnston maintains policies aimed at encouraging holder compliance without being heavy-handed. If a holder routinely reports information clearly and accurately but experiences a reasonable need to file late, the office is willing to grant an extension. Likewise, if a company realizes an area of the organization hasn’t been reporting properly and comes forward to work through it, Johnston is open to waiving penalties and interest. The state offers a voluntary disclosure agreement to help holders come into compliance.

 

“We want to get the money to the right place,” he said. “We encourage holders through outreach and education about what they need to do and to follow the law. That works well for everyone in the long run, so that’s our approach here in Utah.”

 

Tags:  unclaimed property  Utah 

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States Score a Victory in Savings Bond Dispute

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 7, 2017

On Aug. 8, 2017, U.S. Federal Claims Court Judge Elaine Kaplan issued a ruling in support of Kansas State Treasurer Jake LaTurner’s claim that the U.S. Treasury should turn over to the state approximately $150 million in unredeemed U.S. savings bonds. 

 

Kansas argued that the treasury should work with the states to identify and locate bond owners with last-known addresses in each respective state so they could reunite those citizens with the proceeds from their matured, unredeemed bonds. 

 

Among other things, the U.S. Treasury claimed its savings bond regulations do not permit transfer of ownership under the Unclaimed Property Act, and that because Kansas lacked possession of the bond certificates, its claims were invalid. The court disagreed, concluding that the U.S. government’s arguments “lack merit.” The ruling did not, however, grant the state permission to redeem the unclaimed bonds. 

 

“We wholeheartedly agree that the states are best equipped to reunite citizens with missing or unclaimed property,” LaTurner said in a statement. “The Kansas Treasurer’s Office is looking forward to returning the money in question to Kansans at the appropriate time. Kansas is leading the effort with many other states to hold the U.S. Treasury accountable. Not only is this a victory for the bond owners in Kansas but for bond owners across the country.”

 

Several other states have taken similar actions against the U.S. Treasury over their citizens’ portion of an estimated $19 billion to $23 billion in unredeemed bonds. 

 

Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis called Kaplan’s ruling, “a victory for Kansas and for Florida.” He wrote in his monthly newsletter that the ruling allows Florida to move forward with its efforts to reunite residents with proceeds from unredeemed bonds because the decision “addressed several of the same arguments that we have made.” The state estimates Florida citizens are owed approximately $1 billion for unredeemed bonds. 

 

Mississippi filed suit against the U.S. Treasury in 2016, seeking approximately $155 million. Judge Kaplan stayed that case while considering the Kansas case. 

 

In addition to legal action against the federal government, several states have passed legislation requiring unredeemed U.S. savings bonds to be escheated as unclaimed property. In 2015 and 2016 alone, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Rhode Island and Wisconsin passed such bills into law. 

Tags:  Florida  Kansas  Mississippi  savings bonds  unclaimed property 

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The Holders Coalition: Strength in Numbers

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 31, 2017

As state legislatures and regulators turn out more and more unclaimed property bills and proposed regulations, UPPO’s advocacy efforts have become increasingly important. The Government Relations and Advocacy Committee constantly monitors and responds to legislation and proposed regulations that could be problematic for unclaimed property holders. In an effort to amplify the holder community’s voice, UPPO has joined with other organizations to form the Holders Coalition. 

 

During the creation of the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act (RUUPA), the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI) developed the Holders Coalition to encourage a consistent, unified voice on behalf of holders when working with the RUUPA Drafting Committee. The coalition brought together holders and their associations to work together on common interests. Following adoption of the RUUPA last summer, coalition members decided it would be beneficial to continue their work as other opportunities for collaboration arise. 

 

“The coalition format allows UPPO to maintain our independent voice while working closely with like-minded groups on select, common interests,” said UPPO Executive Director Toni Nuernberg. “In fact, UPPO’s strategic plan calls for the development of coalition relationships with other organizations, so participation in the Holders Coalition aligns with our long-term goals.” 

 

As the coalition has evolved, ACLI recently asked whether UPPO would consider facilitating the group, and the UPPO Board of Directors agreed. UPPO’s new role involves arranging monthly conference calls, creating the agenda and hosting the calls. UPPO also created a web page for coalition members to access documents related to the group’s work.

 

“UPPO is well-suited to take on a leadership role within the coalition,” Nuernberg said. “We are in the unique position of representing holders who work across all industries, so facilitating the coalition is a natural fit.”

 

Currently, the coalition is working on a plan to address problematic provisions of Illinois S.B. 9, which is scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 1, 2018. 

Tags:  advocacy  holders coalition  unclaimed property 

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2017 Fall Reporting Checklist Part 4 (South Carolina – Wyoming)

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 24, 2017

Fall reporting season is again upon us. Most U.S. states require holders to file reports by either Oct. 31 or Nov. 1. Following are reporting deadlines for these states, along with helpful links. We have also included information submitted to UPPO by unclaimed property administrators in response to a recent survey requesting updated reporting information. This list is not exclusive to a specific holder industry, so please check the states’ websites for information on industry-specific reporting information and deadlines. 

 

Part 1 covers Alabama through Hawaii.

Part 2 covers Idaho through Minnesota.

Part 3 covers Mississippi through Rhode Island.

Part 4 covers South Carolina through Wyoming.

 

South Carolina

Report due: Oct. 31, 2017

Extensions: Extensions may be requested by email.

 

Contact: unclaimed@sto.sc.gov or (803) 737-4771

South Carolina holder resources

 

South Dakota

Report due: Nov. 1, 2017

Extensions: Extensions may be requested in writing before the report due date.

 

Contact: holders@sdtreasurer.gov or (605) 773-3379

South Dakota holder resources

 

Notes from UPPO’s state administrator survey:

  • Holder Reporting Portal is new in the last year.
  • Report file type change: We cannot accept HDE files.

 

Utah

Report due: Nov. 1, 2017

Extensions: Extensions may be requested in writing 30 days before the report due date.

 

Contact: ucprop@utah.gov or (801) 715-3300 or (888) 217-1203

Utah holder resources

 

Notes from UPPO’s state administrator survey:

  • Due diligence threshold change: Not more than 180 days but not less than 60 days.
  • Due diligence method change: If address not available. email is acceptable means for due diligence
  • All reports must be filed electronically. 
  • Worthless shares are no longer reportable. 

 

Virgin Islands

Report due: Nov. 1, 2017

Extensions: Extensions may be requested in writing before the report due date.

 

Contact: (340) 774-7166

Virgin Islands holder resources

 

Notes from UPPO’s state administrator survey:

  • Report should be submitted in excel format only.

 

Virginia

Report due: Nov. 1, 2017

Extensions: Extensions may be requested.

 

Contact: Bill Dadmun: William.Dadmun@trs.virginia.gov or (804) 225-2142 

Virginia holder resources

 

Notes from UPPO’s state administrator survey:

  • Instruction manual/handbook has been updated in the past three months.
  • Virginia is using a new file upload approach, which began in 2016. Files are validated upon receipt and if there are errors, they are reported back to the submitter within 24 hours. Once a file is accepted, a state specific AP-1 form is sent back via the contact e-mail. This form should be signed and mailed back with the remittance.
  • Report file type change: .txt, .hrs, or .rpt only. No encrypted files and all files must go through our website upload page.
  • While the threshold for required electronic reporting is 25 owners for Virginia, we highly recommend that all holders report electronically no matter how few owners they have. The process is easier and they can be more assured regarding the acceptability of the report they have submitted. The proper AP-1 form is supplied in a confirmation e-mail back to the submitter. Less work for the holder.
  • Contact change: William Dadmun, 804-225-2547 or william.dadmun@trs.virginia.gov 
  • EFT payment due at time of online filing.
  • If a NAUPA file is submitted for the report data, and the remittance is submitted via ACH or wire transfer, then the AP-1 form can be submitted as a scanned document (after being signed and scanned) to Report.Remit@trs.virginia.gov.
  • If you are reporting large numbers of tangible properties, and your software supports doing so electronically, you may now report tangible items in this manner. In the past, we required paper reports for tangible reports. You should still set up the tangible reports as a separate report. 

 

Washington

Report due: Nov. 1, 2017

Extensions: Extensions may be requested in writing before the report due date. Include company name, holder number, reason for extension request and amount of time requested.

 

Contact: Email form or (360) 534-1502 or (800) 435-2429

Washington holder resources

 

West Virginia

Report due: Oct. 31, 2017

Extensions: Extensions may be requested.

 

Contact: UP-ReceiptsGroup@wvsto.gov or (800) 642-8687

West Virginia holder resources 

Notes from UPPO’s state administrator survey:

  • We have recently added holder education training materials – the presentations from our May 2017 holder workshops to our website.
  • The state reports a trend of submission of multiple reports rather than one report per year. This takes up more staff time to process and more holder time to prepare and submit.

 

Wisconsin

Report due: Nov. 1, 2017

Extensions: Extensions may be requested.

 

Contact: Email form or (608) 264-4594

Wisconsin holder resources 

Notes from UPPO’s state administrator survey:

  • Instruction manual/handbook has been updated in the past three months.
  • Report file type change: Reports MUST be filed electronically. Reports on paper or CD will not be accepted.
  • Report formatting change: Complete owner and address information is appreciated to facilitate our automated data match process.
  • In Wisconsin, holder reports can post automatically, making property available for claimants in as little as three days. Holder reports must be correct when submitted, as we may no longer have the property for you to file a claim for refund.
  • ACH payment methods preferred. See Wisconsin Holder Report Guide for details.
  • EFT payment due at time of online filing.
  • Mailing address change: P.O. Box 8982 MUST be used. The old P.O. Box for the Wisconsin State Treasurer's office has been discontinued.

 

Wyoming

Report due: Nov. 1, 2017

Extensions: Extensions may be requested in writing before the report due date.

 

Contact: wyomingup@wyo.gov or (307) 777-5590

Wyoming holder resources 

Notes from UPPO’s state administrator survey:

  • Instruction manual/handbook has been updated in the past three months.
  • Shares are to be issued in Direct Registration System (DRS) unless the stock issue company only allows physical certificates to be issued, at which time a certificate is acceptable.

 

For detailed information about reporting deadlines, dormancy periods, due diligence requirements, exemptions and deductions, electronic filing and much more, UPPO members can refer to the Jurisdiction Resource Guide

 


Tags:  fall reporting  unclaimed property 

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Texas Publishes Designation of Representative Form

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 24, 2017

On Sept. 1, 2017, Texas law H.B. 1454, passed in June 2015, goes into effect. Among other things, the law allows property owners to designate a “representative for notice,” which triggers a requirement that the holder must mail or email the required due diligence notice to both the representative and the owner. 

 

Representatives may not claim or access the owner’s property, but can stop the dormancy period by communicating with the holder knowledge of the owner’s location and confirmation that the owner has not abandoned the property. The new requirements also require holders to include the name and last-known mailing or email address of the representative when reporting unclaimed property. 

 

With the Sept. 1 effective date just a week away, Texas posted a form that holders may provide to owners to designate a representative. The form requests the designated representative’s name, address, phone and email information and allows the owner to choose multiple accounts (checking, savings, IRA, etc.), for which the representative is the designee. It also specifies, “This form is to be maintained on file with the account owner’s bank or financial institution. Do not submit with the holder’s unclaimed property report.” 

 

In April 2017, Texas unclaimed property officials responded to a December 2016 inquiry from UPPO about implementation of H.B. 1454. In its response, Texas indicated it would be providing the designated representative form, but other methods of collecting the information would also be acceptable. 

 


Tags:  compliance  due diligence  Texas  unclaimed property 

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