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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 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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Class Action Takes on Unclaimed Cryptocurrency

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 22, 2018

Cryptocurrency has been plagued by negative headlines throughout its rise to prominence. Its volatility, ties to black market transactions on the “darknet,” and substantial thefts from cryptocurrency exchanges lead many to doubt proponents’ claims that cryptocurrency is the future of payment transactions.


Cryptocurrency’s latest foray into the news comes from its treatment – or lack thereof – as unclaimed property. On March 2, 2018, plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit against Coinbase, a popular cryptocurrency exchange, for violating California’s Unclaimed Property Law.


At issue is Coinbase’s practice of allowing users to send cryptocurrency, including bitcoin, to email addresses rather than limiting transactions to exchanges between cryptocurrency wallets. Recipients of transactions sent to email addresses received instructions for creating Coinbase accounts and accessing their cryptocurrency. The complaint alleges that some recipients did not complete this process and, thus, never claimed their virtual funds.


Rather than advising senders that the funds were not claimed or escheating them to the state, Coinbase allegedly kept the cryptocurrency, violating California’s unclaimed property statute.


The lawsuit filing explains, “Imagine writing a cashier’s check to a friend. The bank withdraws funds from your account, but your friend never cashes the check. Does the bank get to keep the funds? The law clearly says no. But this is exactly what has happened with cryptocurrencies sent through”


The class action seeks to recover and return unclaimed cryptocurrency to the intended recipients. In the case of email addresses that are no longer active, the property would be escheated to California.


Recognizing the potential for such conflicts as nontraditional currencies become more popular, the Uniform Law Commission included virtual currency within the definition of “property” in the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act of 2016. As states have introduced and adopted new unclaimed property statutes based on RUUPA, virtual currency holders face the same requirements as holders of other property types.


Although California’s Unclaimed Property Law does not specifically mention virtual currency, a 2017 analysis, “Treatment of Bitcoin Under U.S. Property Law” by Perkins Coie LLP, suggests cryptocurrency meets the state’s definition of “intangible property” covered by the law.


As more people and companies recognize bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as legitimate forms of payment, more unclaimed property issues will likely arise. UPPO will continue to monitor and report on the Coinbase class action and other noteworthy cases. 

Tags:  bitcoin  cryptocurrency  unclaimed property  virtual currency 

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UPPO Honors 2017/18 Award Winners

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 15, 2018

Each year during the Annual Conference, UPPO recognizes the hard work and dedication of association members whose efforts contributed to the success of UPPO and the unclaimed property profession throughout the past year. They deserve recognition and appreciation for their hard work, leadership, teamwork and passion.


Members’ Choice Awards

With the Members’ Choice Awards, UPPO recognizes specific state administrators and unclaimed property programs for their excellence. UPPO members nominate candidates and choose the winners from the subsequent slate of nominees. Congratulations to this year’s recipients:

  • Website Award: Virginia. This state’s website is detailed but easy to use for both claimants and holders.
  • Above and Beyond Award: Barbara Benkovic, division manager, Pennsylvania Unclaimed Property. A nomination for Barbara said, “She is a rock star. She has grown in her responsibilities and has about 20 years’ experience in reconciling and importing holder reports. She knows the Wagers system about as well as Ken himself! She also is widely respected by the holders for helping them through issues, challenges and everything reporting-related. She is valuable to the holder community. She is knowledgeable of Pennsylvania state law, policy and procedure. She is cooperative and accommodating when you work with her through the VDA process. She truly goes above and beyond to support the holder community while representing the interests of Pennsylvania. She comes from a place of ‘how can I help you.’ We need a Barb Benkovic in every state.”
  • Overall Excellence Award: Alaska. The Unclaimed Property Team in Alaska, especially Rachel Lewis, takes the time to explain the ins and outs of Alaska’s functions to “newbies.” They are very helpful to those who aren’t fully aware of how state escheatment works.
  • Industry Advocacy Partnership Award: DuCharme, McMillan & Associates (DMA). DuCharme, McMillian, & Associates has developed end-to-end unclaimed property software that greatly automates the compliance process and provides a clear path to the customer.  The software sends emails to owners in the first 90 days after upload, generates an informal due diligence letter to be mailed in the second 90 days, has the ability to notify users when a response is received from an owner and provides workflows for each property from Import to Report and Remit based on state laws and owner responses.
  • State Legislative Award: Rhode Island. This state implemented the “Your Money” program, for which the treasurer’s office actively seeks to repay owners.

Awards of Merit

This award is given to member organizations that have provided exceptional support to UPPO during the past years. Three member companies received this award for providing their services pro bono to write an amicus brief for UPPO to submit to the court hearing the Office Depot case. Receiving the award at the conference were the representatives from those companies who worked on the amicus brie: For Alston & Bird, Ethan Millar; for Baily Cavalieri LLC, James Ryan and Jameel Turner; and for McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvany and Carpenter LLC, Michael Rato.


Team Player Awards

This award is presented to volunteers who serve on committees, work diligently on projects that advance the work of their committees and help pull the team together to accomplish their goals. This year’s recipients include:

  • Jon-Paul Descloux, who co-chairs the Finance Committee and worked diligently to analyze UPPO’s membership data, allowing the committee to thoughtfully consider UPPO’s dues and make recommendations to the board.
  • Emily Ford, who coordinated the popular industry breakout sessions at the annual conference for the second year. She also participated on the speaker subcommittee to place speakers and review presentations, and assisted with the development of the ice-breaker questions on the meal-room tables.  
  • Adriane Counts, who, as co-chair of the On-demand Virtual Education Subcommittee, worked diligently to shape the offerings for the on-demand webinars that are part of the basic and soon-to-be-launched intermediate certificate program.

Shining Star Awards

Several UPPO members received Shining Star honors for their “shining brightly to help guide the way.” They are:

  • David Knott, co-chair of the Claimants Representative Committee
  • Jim Harris, co-chair of the Claimants Representative Committee
  • Jason Higginbotham, co-chair of the Certificate Program Subcommittee
  • Ann Loperfito, co-facilitator of the Industry Focus Conference Calls
  • Jeannette Badalucco, co-facilitator of the Industry Focus Conference Calls
  • Will King, co-chair of the Conference and Seminars Committee
  • Leigh Underwood, co-chair of the Conference and Seminars Committee
  • Robert Joseph, co-chair of the Conference and Seminars Committee
  • Eric Mauldin, co-chair of the Virtual Learning Paid-live Subcommittee

Super Nova Award

UPPO’s highest honor, the Super Nova award is normally reserved for someone who is either retiring or stepping back after many years of service. This year’s recipient, Sam Schaunaman, has become a “household name” within the UPPO family. He has worked tirelessly on a number of UPPO committees, but is perhaps best known for his work with the Government Relations and Advocacy Committee. With a passion for the law and monitoring important legal cases that shaped the unclaimed property landscape, he has provided regular legal updates on the monthly GRAC calls and made sure important case law was added to UPPO’s govWATCH service. He has attended almost every UPPO annual conference for over two decades. He has been a mentor to many in this industry and will be sorely missed as he begins to enjoy retirement, spending much deserved time with his family. 


President’s Award

This award, chosen by the association’s president, honors a member who has taken on a huge task or project that will help change or improve the unclaimed property profession for years to come.  


The first recipient, Karen Anderson has served multiple times, in multiple positions on UPPO’s board of directors and most recently serves on the Government Relations and Advocacy Committee as one of its three co-chairs. This year, she will is taking on a new role as chair of the Holders Coalition.


The second recipient, Heela Popal has served UPPO for many years, most recently on the board of directors. As a member of the UPPO Board, serving through the chairs to her most recent role as immediate past president, she has demonstrated great leadership skills and has clearly helped to advance UPPO’s mission.


Congratulations to all of this year’s winners for their selfless dedication and commitment to their association and profession.



Tags:  awards  unclaimed property  UPPO Annual Conference 

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UPPO Annual Conference Wrap-up

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 8, 2018

More than 600 unclaimed property professionals gathered in Tampa, Florida, on March 4 – 7 for UPPO’s 2018 Annual Conference. Attendees enjoyed a multitude of networking opportunities, special events and educational sessions.


Educational Sessions

The foundation of the UPPO Annual Conference is its strong educational lineup. This year’s event included four educational tracks, providing basic, intermediate and advanced sessions along with industry-specific workshops. The session agenda included all of today’s hot topics in unclaimed property, including Delaware reforms, virtual currency, audits and compliance challenges.


Attendees also heard from state administrators during the According to the States session, got insight into unclaimed property audit litigation through the Mock Trial session, and enjoyed a keynote presentation from speaker, sales coach and author Bud Boughton. 


State of UPPO

2017/18 UPPO President Carla McGlynn provided attendees with an update on the association’s recent work and ongoing initiatives. The year’s highlights included membership growth, development for the upcoming certificate program expansion and establishment of a grassroots advocacy network.


“Thanks to the members of our board, along with numerous committees, work groups, and staff, we’ve achieved great things this year,” McGlynn said.


2018/19 Board of Directors

McGlynn thanked members of the 2017/18 UPPO Board of Directors for their service and recognized departing board members Heela Popal and Sherri Moll for their years of leadership. She then turned the gavel over to her successor as UPPO Executive Director Toni Nuernberg installed the new board:

  • President Marilyn Henry
  • First Vice President Troy Wangen
  • Second Vice President Heather Steffans
  • Treasurer Chris Jensen
  • Secretary Jennifer Waryjas
  • Midwestern Vice President Becky Stephens
  • Eastern Vice President Mike Ryan
  • Southern Vice President Michelle Graf
  • Western Vice President Lisa Linden
  • Immediate Past President Carla McGlynn

Upon her installation as 2018/19 president, Marilyn Henry discussed her commitment to continuing the organization’s momentum and building on successes from the past year.


“As we work to reach more potential members, we will look for opportunities to build on our valuable benefits," she said.


UPPO Scholarship

Each year at the Annual Convention, the association announces the winner of the UPPO Scholarship. To foster an environment of continuing education, UPPO established its scholarship program to financially assist members and their children who wish to continue their education in college or vocational school programs. This year’s recipients are Anne Mickey, daughter of UPPO member Michele Hughes; and Jeremy Walsh, son of UPPO member Kendall Houghton.


Attendees wishing to support the UPPO Scholarship Program participated in a Pirate Water Taxi tour of the Tampa area and donated to the program during the conference.


Sponsors and Exhibitors

The UPPO Annual Conference would not be possible without the support of sponsors and exhibitors. Thank you to all of the vendors who helped make this year’s event a success.



  • True Partners Consulting LLC
  • PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
  • Altus Group
  • Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP
  • Duff & Phelps
  • Morris Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP
  • JMS Advisory Group LLC
  • Alston & Bird LLP
  • Ernst & Young LLP
  • Finders International
  • MarketSphere Unclaimed Property Specialists
  • McDermott Will & Emery
  • Ryan LLC
  • Keane
  • Boomerang Asset Recovery LLC
  • Crowe Horwath LLP
  • Reed Smith LLP



  • Altus Group
  • Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP
  • Boomerang Asset Recovery LLC
  • Crowe Horwath LLP
  • DuCharme, McMillen & Associates Inc.
  • Duff & Phelps
  • Dunbar
  • Eagle Technology Management Inc.
  • Financial Software Innovations Inc.
  • Georgeson LLC
  • Institute of Finance and Management (IOFM)
  • JMS Advisorry Group LLC
  • Keane
  • MarketSphere Unclaimed Property Specialists
  • Navigant
  • New York Post
  • NY Daily News
  • Phoenix Finders Group
  • Ryan LLC
  • Shareholders Services Association (SSA)
  • Trintech
  • True Partners Consulting LLC
  • Yellow Tag Auctions


Mark Your Calendar

Thank you to attendees, speakers and members who helped plan this year’s conference, without whom it could not have been such a success. Plan to join us next year in New Orleans on March 24 – 27 for the 2019 UPPO Annual Conference. Planning is already underway, and it’s sure to be another great event.


Want to get more out of your conference experience or learn more about what you missed? Join us for a free member webinar at 1 p.m. EDT on March 28, featuring conference speakers sharing their experience and what they took away from the event.



Tags:  education  unclaimed property  UPPO Annual Conference 

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Reviewing Records for Unclaimed Property

Posted By Administration, Thursday, March 1, 2018

To help ensure that all potential property types and sources are being captured in the unclaimed property review process, holders should periodically review trial balances, general ledger and bank statements. 


The review should identify all open and closed bank accounts that are used to distribute checks and electronic payments. Review open accounts to verify that the outstanding checks associated with the accounts are being captured in the unclaimed property procedures. Review closed accounts to determine the resolution of outstanding items. Ensure voids are well-supported and not being issued to circumvent unclaimed property.    


Conduct an additional review on general ledger accounts to identify accounts that have been established to capture unknown, unreconciled, write-off or suspense balances. If accounts are noted in the system, conduct additional research to verify whether the balances represent unclaimed property.


Uncashed checks

Including uncashed checks is intrinsic to every unclaimed property review. Research checks outstanding more than 180 days to determine if the funds remain due and payable to the payee. If the distribution is still owed, confirm payee name and address and conduct outreach to contact the payee about the status of the outstanding check. If the payee lost or destroyed the original check, the original issuance should be voided and reissued. Make sure to maintain notes pertaining to the reissuance in the accounting records along with the date that the reissued check cleared.


To verify that the reasons for voids are documented and that they weren’t voided simply because they were outstanding and not cashed, review all voided transactions greater than 90 days. Third-party auditors may test outstanding checks aged greater than 90 days from issuance and voided aged greater than 30 days from issuance. As such, to be conservative, transactions voided more than 30 days from date of issue should be documented in the accounting records to cover all bases.


Checks issued by third parties on behalf of the holder can create unclaimed property exposure for a company if responsibilities are not well-defined. Ensure third-party contracts clearly outline the duties and that those responsibilities are executed based on the contract terms. 


If the third party is reporting on the company’s behalf, the company should request and maintain copies of the unclaimed property reports, detail of the property that was reported and all associated payments or remittances to the state. Ultimate responsibility for outstanding checks tends to fall back on the company unless adequate supporting documentation can be produced.


Credit balances

Accounts receivable credit balances tend to be one of the most complicated accounting types in unclaimed property because states take various positions regarding when or if property is deemed to be reportable. For example, some states hold the position that accounts receivable credit balances are not reportable while there is an active relationship with the customer, but the state may not provide a thorough explanation of what constitutes an active relationship. Other states consider all credits as potential unclaimed property, no matter the account relationship, and want holders to confirm that their customers are aware of credits and have the opportunity to use them.   


Most states also allow credits owed to a customer to be offset by balances owed to the company by the same customer. Debits due from the customer that were written-off to bad debt during the same time period can be used to offset the credit balance write-offs. 


When conducting an analysis of the accounts receivable transactions that are potentially escheatable, holders need to look at transactions that may no longer be included in the receivables account – for example, credits that were moved out of accounts receivable and into accounts payable because they were refunded to the payee.


The process should include reviewing reports that contain any unresolved credits that were reclassified out of the receivables account. Review the general ledger detail to identify any credit balances that were reclassified, because these transactions may represent unclaimed property. The states do not accept write-offs to income as sufficient to remove the credit balance and therefore prevent the credit balance from being escheated to the state as unclaimed property.


Holders should review the unapplied cash detail, also commonly referenced as an unidentified remittance, to identify any receipts that are stale-dated and have not yet been applied to a customer’s invoice to offset the credit. 


Determining when the transaction is stale-dated may vary by state. Companies should routinely review unapplied cash detail quarterly, bi-annually or annually. 


For holders that maintain unapplied cash on the accounts receivable aging reports, the unapplied cash detail analysis may not be applicable. In such cases, holders should review aging reports on a regular basis.


Gift cards

Sales of gift cards and certificates may result in escheatable property too. Holders need to review the gift card/certificate reports that identify unredeemed gift card balances. Obtain these reports either internally from the appropriate department or from the third-party administrator if one is used to run the gift card/certificate program.


Holders should review unredeemed gift card/certificate reports to identify cards and certificates that have been inactive and are soon to become dormant. The dormancy period for unredeemed gift cards/certificates varies by state.


Dormant unredeemed gift cards/certificates may be escheatable. If a holder retains the owner or gift recipient’s address information, then the unclaimed property laws for that address state will apply. If the holder does not retain address information, then the laws of the holder’s state of incorporation or domicile will apply. 


Some states do not require the escheatment of unredeemed gift cards/certificates. A vast majority of those states simultaneously require that the cards and certificates do not expire. This allows an owner to redeem the gift card/certificate into perpetuity. Holders should identify the applicable state law to determine if transactions are escheatable and what limitations may apply.



Equity is another type of property record that may result in an escheatable transaction. When evaluating equity for potentially escheatable property, holders need to review outstanding dividends and other payments that are owed and outstanding to the shareholder, as well as the underlying shares. Many states require that, if a dividend check is dormant and escheatable, holders also escheat the underlying share related to the dividend.


Most holders employ a transfer agent to oversee their equity. Escheat review and annual compliance filing is usually included in the duties of the transfer agent. Holders should request and maintain copies of all annual unclaimed property reports filed by the transfer agent on the holder’s behalf. 


Holder conducting their own analysis of potentially escheatable equity transactions should review the report of shareholder activity. This report should include the date of the shareholder’s last activity on their account, as well as list the outstanding dividend check payments.


States vary on what information is considered sufficient contact to identify the shareholder’s last activity date, so consult the applicable state provision.


Mineral rights

Some holders may hold potentially escheatable property in the form of mineral rights and royalties. A holder should review the list of suspended accounts that is due to the holder losing contact with the property owner.  The determination of lost contact may vary depending on the applicable state law, so the holder should always verify what is considered lost contact.


Similar to the analysis of equity transactions, if the royalty is determined to be dormant and escheatable, the holder should be aware that some states require holders to remit all owed royalties with the outstanding payment. Keep in mind, some states have more stringent guidelines for reporting mineral rights and royalties so be sure to research state statutes.


Insurance properties

Insurance companies have a number of unique transactions from other types of businesses that may become escheatable property. In addition to uncashed checks, insurance companies need to conduct analysis on agent commission liability accounts to identify any dormant unpaid commission balances.


These holders should also obtain and review records related to life insurance policies. Identify policies that have matured but were not paid to the policy holder due to losing contact with the policyholder, as these policies may be escheatable.


Holders should obtain a listing of life insurance policies for which the death notice was received but the claim not paid. This often occurs because the beneficiaries cannot be found. Many states have enacted the Life Insurance Benefit Act, which requires companies to check policy inventory against the Death Master File on a regular basis.


Further, holders should obtain and review a listing of unpaid annuities and inactive retained asset accounts to identify transactions that have become dormant and may be escheatable to the states.


As with all property types, dormancy and escheat requirements vary by state, so confirm applicable state laws.

Tags:  checks  credit balances  gift cards  gift certificates  insurance  mineral rights  records 

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Attending the UPPO Annual Conference? Explore Tampa

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, February 21, 2018

In addition to unmatched educational and networking opportunities, the 2018 UPPO Annual Conference presents a chance for attendees to take advantage of a great location, Tampa, Florida.



Tampa offers plenty of fun for adults and kids alike. One of the largest zoos in North America, Busch Gardens offers a chance to get up close and personal with exotic animals and to feel the exhilaration of some of Florida’s best roller coasters and thrill rides. If the thrills of a theme park are a little too thrilling for you, take in a bit of history at the Henry B. Plant Museum. The museum uses educational exhibits and events to help visitors explore the late Victorian period, the beginning of Florida’s tourist industry, and the early years of the city of Tampa. 


Other popular attractions include:


Looking for some retail therapy? Hyde Park Village features popular shops, unique boutiques and great dining in a delightful outdoor environment. International Plaza and Bay Street includes 200 stores and 16 restaurants in an enclosed mall with an adjacent open-air village.



Once a hub for Tampa’s cigar industry, Ybor City has channeled its Cuban, Spanish and Italian cultures into its range of popular entertainment options. Club Prana is one of the city’s most eclectic dance clubs, featuring five levels and a mix of hip-hop, reggae, latin and dance music. Gaspar’s Grotto pays tribute all year long to the famous pirate invasion celebrated annually during the Gasparilla Celebration. Tampa Bay Brewing Company offers a more laidback environment and some of the city’s best microbrews.


While visiting Ybor City, make sure to try a Cuban sandwich or paella a la valenciana at Columbia Restaurant, Florida’s oldest restaurant. Most nights feature a Flamenco show for just a few bucks more.



For more than 60 years, Bern’s Steak House has been serving up char-grilled steaks, delicious sides and selections from a massive 7,000+ vintage wine menu. If you’d rather take full advantage of Tampa’s proximity to the ocean, Oystercatchers features locally sourced seafood and magnificent views of Tampa Bay.


If you’re up for a little experimentation, try Edison Food + Drink Lab. This unique restaurant’s industrial science theme is evident in everything from creative menu items to the lab-inspired décor.


Enjoy your time in Tampa!

Tags:  UPPO annual conference 

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