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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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Unclaimed Property News Roundup

Posted By Administration, Thursday, September 21, 2017

Unclaimed property has been in the headlines lately with a variety of stories appearing in local and national media outlets. Following is a recap of some of the most noteworthy reports.

 

Delaware’s pro-business image slides, in part from aggressive unclaimed property enforcement

On Sept. 11, 2017, Delaware Online published an article about a U.S. Chamber of Commerce study that dropped Delaware from the top state for business litigation to 11th. Among the reasons noted was the state’s aggressive enforcement of unclaimed property laws.

 

Unclaimed property takes center stage in Louisiana treasurer election

On Sept. 9, The Advocate published a lengthy article discussing how Louisiana’s former treasurer and current senator John Kennedy raised the profile of unclaimed property in the state. As a result, candidates for the upcoming treasurer election have made unclaimed property central to their campaign platforms.

 

Even celebrities appear on state unclaimed property lists

Reports in numerous media outlets, including WCVB TV, in the past few weeks have reported on members of pop group New Kids on the Block appearing on the Massachusetts unclaimed property list. Although celebrity unclaimed property reports are often a little hokey, they receive a lot of media and online attention, raising awareness of unclaimed property nationwide.

 

Texas unclaimed property rule changes receive coverage

On Aug. 30, Ignites, a Financial Times company, published an article discussing Texas unclaimed property rules that subsequently went into effect on Sept. 1. Commenting on behalf of UPPO, Kendall Houghton addressed the new Texas Designation of Representative form: “While there appears to be a maintenance requirement, there doesn’t appear to be a record retention period established through the form or, to my knowledge, by the comptroller’s office.”

 

Wall Street Journal looks at the JLI Invest unclaimed property case against Delaware

On Aug. 18, The Wall Street Journal published an article about the lawsuit brought by two French scientists against Delaware for seizing and selling their stock, considered by Delaware as unclaimed property. The value of the stock increased significantly after Delaware sold it but before the scientists learned their stock had been seized, causing them to lose millions of dollars, according to their complaint. The author of the WSJ article subsequently appeared on CNBC’s Closing Bell, discussing the article and the issues raised by the JLI case.

 

Bloomberg looks at issues with Delaware’s proposed unclaimed property rules

On Aug 14, Bloomberg BNA’s Salt Talk Blog published an article about Delaware’s work to develop new unclaimed property rules, required by S.B. 13. The article notes that many of the issues raised after Delaware released its previous version of the proposed rules remain present in the new version.

 

Tags:  Delaware  Louisiana  Texas  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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2017 Unclaimed Property Legislative Roundup

Posted By Administration with contribution by Marcella Easly, senior compliance advisor at UPCR, Thursday, July 13, 2017

Across the nation, unclaimed property has been a popular topic for state legislatures this year. Although a handful of state legislatures are still in session, most have completed their work. Following is a brief summary of some of the most noteworthy unclaimed property bills that became law during the 2017 session. 

 

Delaware

Effective on Feb. 2, 2017, S.B. 13 adopts in substance many provisions from the 2016 Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act promulgated by the Uniform Law Commission. In addition, it adopts certain recommendations from the Delaware Unclaimed Property Task Force formed under Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 59 of the 147th General Assembly, and makes significant changes to the state's unclaimed property reporting process and compliance initiatives. More specifically, these changes include reducing the look-back period of all voluntary disclosure agreements and audits to 10 report years, and creating a 10-year statute of limitations for the state to seek payment of unclaimed property due to the state. In addition, this legislation aligns the state’s record retention requirement for companies with the statute of limitations and look back period, which brings State law into conformity with a majority of other states. This bill also offers any company currently under audit prior to July 22, 2015, the opportunity to convert their audit into a voluntary disclosure agreement by entering into the Secretary of State Voluntary Disclosure Agreement program. All companies who received a notice of examination and are currently under audit as of the effective date of this Act will have the opportunity to engage in an expedited audit review process. Finally, the bill mandates that interest be assessed on any late-filed unclaimed property, as a means to incentivize voluntary compliance. See previous UPPO’s May 4 blog post for more information about S.B. 13. 

 

Effective on June 29, 2017, S.B. 79 makes changes and corrections to SB 13. Among these changes, the amended bill ensures holders have sufficient time to comply with SB 13’s due diligence requirements with owners. It further clarifies that the state will indemnify and defend a holder against claims made by a foreign jurisdiction for property paid or delivered to the state escheator in good faith.

 

Idaho

Effective on July 1, 2017, H.B. 152 establishes an exemption from Unclaimed Property law for nonprofit corporations providing telecommunications service and delivery of electric power.

 

Illinois

Effective on Jan. 1, 2018, S.B. 9 creates the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. It adds language concerning definitions, applicability, rulemaking, and presumptively abandoned property. The bill also includes rules for taking custody of property that is presumed abandoned, reporting requirements, and required notice to property owners, among other provisions. The bill expressly excludes gift cards, loyalty cards and game-related digital content from property subject to escheat. However, it does not exclude gift cards from the definition of “stored-value cards,” which are subject to escheat, creating a potential conflict. The bill also specifies that virtual currency is subject to escheat. The state’s business-to-business exemption is not retained under the new bill.

 

New Hampshire 

Effective on Jan. 1, 2018, H.B. 473 increases the threshold above which merchants can sell gift cards with expiration dates from $100 to $250. The bill further clarifies that gift certificates of $250 or less shall not be considered abandoned property, and it revises the definition of gift certificate by removing the requirement that a gift certificate be in writing. The bill also provides that gift certificates and store credits remitted to the state prior to Jan. 1, 2018, must remain in the custody of the state until returned to the owner.

 

South Dakota

Effective on March 10, 2017, S.B. 34 revises provisions related to securities held as unclaimed property. It requires the state treasurer to sell all stocks, bonds, and other negotiable instruments within 90 days of confirmed receipt, unless the property is on an open claim.

 

Effective on July 1, 2017, H.B. 1081 revises provisions for establishing a trust for a mineral owner who cannot be located. It provides that a person or entity holding interest in a tract of land may petition a county court to create a trust in favor of an undetermined owner of a mineral interest in that tract of land. It further provides conditions for the creation and administration of such a trust.

 

Tennessee

Effective on July 1, 2017, H.B. 420 repeals and reenacts the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. It includes dormancy periods, reporting and due diligence requirements, and abandoned life insurance provisions, among other measures. The bill requires the treasurer to sell or liquidate securities between eight months and one year after receiving the security. 

 

Texas 

Effective on Sept. 1, 2017, S.B. 561 relates to unclaimed life insurance and annuity contract proceeds. Among its provisions, the bill requires an insurer to periodically compare its applicable in-force life insurance policies, annuity contracts, and retained asset accounts against a Death Master File. In the event of a match, insurers are required to complete a good faith review of the situation, and if proceeds may be due, to conduct outreach to beneficiaries within 90 days and provide assistance in making a claim. The bill further requires an insurer to report and deliver unclaimed proceeds to the comptroller of public accounts.

 

Effective on Sept. 1, 2017, H.B. 2964 adopts a Senate amendment and provides that a holder of mutual fund shares must notify an owner at initial purchase that the owner may designate a representative to receive a notice of abandonment.

 

Utah

Effective on May 8, 2017, H.B. 175 repeals and reenacts the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. Among its provisions, the bill revises presumptions of abandonment, amends reporting procedures, and addresses the duties of a holder of abandoned or unclaimed property.

 

Effective on May 8, 2017, H.B. 42 makes comprehensive revisions to insurance law. Among other changes, the bill amends definitions under the Unclaimed Life Insurance and Annuity Benefits Act by removing the definition of "Knowledge of death."

 

For the latest information about these and other noteworthy unclaimed property bills, visit UPPO’s govWATCH website. 

 

About the contributor 

Marcella Easly, senior compliance advisor at Unclaimed Property Consulting & Reporting (UPCR), contributes to UPPO’s regular legislative update blog posts. Easly has more than 30 years of unclaimed property experience with special focus in state legislative tracking and resolving client-state advocacy issues. She was Unclaimed Property Manager for the State of Oregon for 14 years.  She was active in the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), serving as president, and regional vice president.  She was instrumental in the creation of the NAUPA property type reporting codes.  She has been with UPCR for 11 years, and has been active in UPPO for more than 13 years.   

 

 

Tags:  Delaware  Idaho  Illinois  legislation  New Hampshire  South Dakota  Tennessee  Texas  unclaimed property  Utah 

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Texas responds to UPPO’s request for clarification of H.B. 1454

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 18, 2017

Passed in June 2015, Texas law H.B. 1454 goes into effect on Sept. 1, 2017. 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.

 

In December 2016, UPPO posed several questions to Texas unclaimed property officials in an effort to receive clarity about the new requirements for the holder community. On April 24, 2017, Texas responded. The letter from Texas is prefaced with a statement advising that the letter is intended to provide general guidance and that no formal changes have been adopted by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts (comptroller).

 

Covered property types

UPPO sought clarity regarding which property types are covered by the law, specifically asking if IRAs and both open-end and closed-end mutual funds are covered. In its response, Texas specified that funds deposited with a bank or other financial institution in an interest-bearing account, checking account or savings account are included. This includes mutual funds held in an IRA, but those “would not be subject to abandonment until they would normally be reportable as unclaimed property.”

 

Methods to obtain representative information

Texas clarified that although the comptroller will provide a form holders may provide to owners to designate a representative it is not required and therefore other methods used to collect this information are acceptable. Texas expects to make the form available before Sept. 1, 2017, and “anticipate[s] that holders will inform customers of the option to designate a representative.”

 

Criteria for becoming a representative

UPPO requested clarification regarding specific criteria for being designated a representative and whether the designated person has to provide consent. Texas responded that it anticipates requiring that the representative be an individual over 18 years old who does not own the account. The state doesn’t anticipate requiring a legal relationship between the owner and representative, or requiring consent.

 

Duration and reporting of representative appointment

Texas anticipates its representative designation form will give holders the ability to specify the duration of the designation, according to the letter. Without such stipulation, the designation would be perpetual unless revoked. It seems likely that the form will actually give the ability to specify the duration of the designation to owners—not holders—and that the wording in the letter was an error.

 

Holders would not need to notify the comptroller of changes to designated representatives, only to list them when reporting unclaimed property. The comptroller is updating its electronic holder report format to accommodate representative details. The updated format should be announced before Sept. 1, 2017.

 

Multiple accounts

The state clarified that the representative designation form will give owners the ability to specify the accounts for which the representative is a designee. There will be an “all accounts” option. Communication from the representative regarding one account does not affect the abandonment period for any accounts for which that person is not designated as a representative.

 

UPPO will continue to monitor implementation of H.B. 1454 and will report on additional developments as needed.

 

 

Tags:  compliance  due diligence  Texas  unclaimed property 

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New Pennsylvania and Texas due diligence requirements raise questions

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, February 21, 2017

In recent years, Pennsylvania and Texas enacted new unclaimed property due diligence requirements that affect holders this year. In both cases, the statutes raise several questions for holders required to comply with the new requirements.

 

Pennsylvania

Last year, Pennsylvania amended its unclaimed property law, effective Sept. 12, 2016. Among the changes was the addition of a due diligence requirement. According to draft guidance from the state, the new due diligence requirement applies to all property to be reported on April 15, 2017.  

 

The due diligence requirement specifies that property holders must send a notice to owners between 60 and 120 days before reporting the property to the state treasurer. The requirement applies to any property valued at $50 or more for which the holder has an owner address it believes is valid.

 

Holders are also permitted to provide optional, additional notice any time between the date of last activity by, or communication with, the owner and the escheatment date, under the new requirement.

 

Unless the holder has valid consent from the owner for electronic contact the owner, written notice must be sent by first-class mail. The holder is required to include descriptions of the property and property ownership, value of the property (if known) and information for contacting the holder to avoid escheatment of the property.

 

The due diligence requirement’s language raises several questions for holders. It is unclear whether having valid consent to communicate electronically triggers a requirement that the holder must provide the notice electronically, or if the holder has the option to provide notice either electronically or by first class mail.

 

It is also unclear what constitutes owner consent to receive the due diligence notice electronically. Does the consent have to specifically mention due diligence notices? Does consent apply if the owner agreed to receive only specific types of documents, such as tax forms, electronically?

 

UPPO has raised these questions via comments to Pennsylvania’s treasurer in hopes of receiving clarification for the holder community.

 

Texas

In June 2015, Texas passed H.B. 1454, which includes new due diligence requirements, effective on Sept. 1, 2017. Under the new requirements, if a property owner has designated a “representative for notice,” the holder must mail or email the written notice required upon presumption of abandonment to the representative in addition to mailing the notice to the owner.

 

The requirements specify that, although the designated representative does not have any rights to claim or access the property, the dormancy period will cease if the representative communicates to the holder knowledge of the owner’s location and confirms that the owner has not abandoned the property.

 

Holders are also required, under the new requirements, to include the name and last-known mailing or email address of the representative for notice designated by the holder.

 

As with Pennsylvania’s new requirements, the Texas requirements raise several questions for holders:

  • What types of property are covered? The law specifies mutual funds, deposit accounts and safe deposit boxes, but doesn’t specify whether both open-end and closed-end mutual funds, and IRAs are included?
  • What are the acceptable methods for obtaining representative information? The requirement specifies that the comptroller provides a form that a holder may make available to an owner to designate a representative. However, it does not specify whether this is the only acceptable method for collecting this information.
  • Is there any criteria for being designated as a representative for notice, and does the designated representative have to provide any sort of consent to serving this role?
  • How long does a designation of being a representative for notice last, and are there any requirements for an owner to revoke this designation and/or for a holder to notify Texas of the revocation?
  • If the owner holds multiple accounts with the same holder, is designation of a representative for notice on one account considered applicable to all accounts? Likewise, does a representative response regarding one account automatically reflect interest in all of the owner’s accounts maintained by the holder?

UPPO has raised these questions with Texas officials and will continue to monitor implementation of the new requirements.

 

 

Tags:  due diligence  Pennsylvania  Texas  unclaimed property 

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