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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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Industry Conference Calls and Sessions Provide Open Forums for Sharing Information

Posted By Contribution from Marilyn Henry, 2017/18 UPPO First Vice President, Tuesday, December 19, 2017

One of the most beneficial aspects of attending the UPPO Annual Conference every year is the opportunity to learn from other unclaimed property professionals in the same industry. The Industry Focus Breakout Sessions perfectly complement the traditional educational workshops and speakers to provide a well-rounded combination of formal and informal learning at the event.


These industry focus breakout sessions have been so popular that attendees have suggested developing a way to continue the valuable open forum discussions throughout the year. As a result of these requests, UPPO held a Banking and Finance Industry Conference Call in August. Like the annual conference breakout sessions, the call provided the chance for participants to raise questions, share solutions and chat about common issues.


August’s call was successful, with nearly 100 attending. Since then, another call was held in November, and the third call is scheduled for Jan. 16.


When I first attended unclaimed property conferences 20 years ago, one of the things that was most valuable was the ability to pick up little bits of information and advice from other people who had more experience in unclaimed property. For that reason, the UPPO Annual Conference and Industry Focus Conference Calls can be especially helpful for new UPPO members and novices to unclaimed property compliance.


Even for those of us who have been involved in unclaimed property for a long time, however, the incentive to participate remains strong. With regulatory changes happening within the states at such a rapid pace now, having more opportunities to learn about how others are responding is very useful. If I pick up just one new piece of information or useful tip, the investment of my time to attend is worthwhile.


Thanks to the success of the Banking & Finance Industry Conference Calls, UPPO leadership is currently evaluating developing similar calls for another industry in 2018.


If you are involved in the banking and finance industry, I recommend participating in the next call. If not, take a look at the UPPO Annual Conference agenda, register and participate in the Industry Breakout Sessions. I think you’ll find that the friendly, comfortable environment is perfectly suited for sharing information, comparing strategies and getting real-world advice from industry peers. I hope to see you there!

Tags:  UPPO 

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Serving on the UPPO Board Opens Doors

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 19, 2017

Serving on the Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization Board of Directors opens doors to new experiences, connections and opportunities. It offers the chance for members to influence the priorities of the organization and give back to others in their profession. 


UPPO is currently accepting nominations for the 2018 board election. Four positions – second vice president, secretary, Eastern vice president and Midwestern vice president – are open for nominations by Nov. 20. 


“I strongly encourage interested members to run,” said Heather Steffans, UPPO’s Midwestern vice president. “Serving on the board greatly enhances your involvement with the organization. You make connections with many more individuals across the organization, and increase your awareness of what’s happening in the industry. It allows you to provide feedback and ideas on how we can advance the organization’s three-pronged mission of advocacy, membership growth and education. I am continually amazed at the fantastic volunteer efforts that members put into the committees; seeing it first-hand participating as a board liaison. The discussions that occur during the committee and board meetings are efficient and productive.”


Serving on the board offers many benefits. As a board member, you can:

  • Lead your profession: Demonstrate and share your skills as a leader and influencer in the unclaimed property profession. 
  • Help guide your organization: Play an essential role in the setting the direction the organization will take. Represent fellow members, ensuring their voices are heard. 
  • Give back: Many UPPO members credit their active participation in the association as a key factor for their professional development, network depth and career growth. Serving on a board is a way to give back to the organization. 
  • Gain 501(c)(6) nonprofit experience: Expand your skills in and knowledge of a nonprofit organization’s operations. 
  • Grow your network: Board members develop new and deeper relationships with fellow directors and association members.
  • Expand your resume: Whether you desire to move up your current company or anticipate seeking new opportunities elsewhere, board experience demonstrates your leadership skills and involvement beyond the workplace. 
  • New expertise: As a board member, you’ll gain greater insight into the unclaimed property world and experience with issues you may not otherwise encounter.

Board members are often surprised by how rewarding their participation is – and by how many ways their dedicated time and energy pay off. 


“Overall, it’s been a great experience,” said Michelle Graf, UPPO’s Southern vice president. “I’ve learned a lot about the in-depth issues within UPPO and the unclaimed property arena. It also opens the door to new personal and professional connections. Serving on the board is unlike anything I’ve done before.”


Consider sharing your ideas, talents and skills by applying to become a board member today, or nominate a fellow UPPO member by Nov. 20, 2017. Learn more


Tags:  board of directors  election  nominations  UPPO 

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UPPO members play an essential role in growing membership

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 12, 2017

The value of a professional organization like UPPO comes from strength in numbers. As membership grows, more knowledgeable individuals share their experiences and work to tackle common issues. So, it makes sense that recruiting new members is viewed as an essential, unending task for the organization.


Potential members often learn about UPPO from current members who are eager to spread the word about the organization’s benefits.


“The best individuals to sell the value that UPPO delivers are the members who have experienced it themselves,” said Chris Jensen, director of abandoned and unclaimed property compliance for Ryan. “Members can provide real-life examples about how they rely on other members to get questions answered or to come up with ideas to improve processes.”


When speaking with potential members, Jensen often touts three specific areas where UPPO shines:

  • Education: Webinars and the annual conference provide high quality education for professionals at all levels of experience.
  • Networking: Unclaimed property is such a niche profession that only those who are involved in it fully understand it. The ability to tap into that group’s knowledge is invaluable.
  • Advocacy: More than ever, holders and service providers need a voice fighting for them. Increasingly, UPPO gives them that voice.

James Santivanez, president and co-founder of JMS Advisory Group, believes encouraging client holders to become members builds greater trust.


“When our clients talk to other holders in their specific industry, they quickly learn that our advice and counsel is substantive and in line with what they’re learning,” he said. “That validation builds confidence and trust. If you have interested and engaged clients, you want them to be educated and to build their own knowledge base.”


Some of the other benefits that often resonate with potential members include tools and resources available on the UPPO website, including the Jurisdiction Resource Guide; and legislative and regulatory tracking via govWATCH.


“Any organization is going to be more valuable with as many intelligent inputs as you can gather,” Santivanez said. “It’s such an inclusive organization, whether you want to get involved in leadership, volunteer for committees, or just show up and quietly learn.”


As a token of appreciate for members who refer new members and to encourage member references, UPPO thanks recruiting members with a $100 gift card. To learn more about UPPO’s Membership Recruitment Program, access a digital version of the UPPO member packet or request printed copies, visit UPPO’s member referral web page.



Tags:  advocacy  education  membership  networking  recruitment  UPPO 

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UPPO members play essential role in growing membership

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 27, 2016

Whether it’s educating holders, working to ensure fair regulation or bringing unclaimed property professionals together, UPPO’s initiatives depend on a large, active membership. Growing membership helps strengthen the organization and the profession it represents, so recruiting new members is an unending task.


Fortunately, many potential members learn about UPPO from current members who recognize the benefits of bringing more people into the organization.


Mike Ryan, senior vice president at Georgeson, has recruited several UPPO members. He often speaks to industry groups about unclaimed property issues, and includes a discussion about UPPO and its resources for holders within his presentations. Individual conversations with attendees at these events also often include encouragement to join.


“The greatest thing about UPPO is the networking—the sharing of ideas and things that work and don’t work,” Ryan says. “The more members we have, the more experiences we can tap into.”


Ryan finds that potential members are often intrigued by the ability to connect with peers who share similar issues and speak the same industry jargon. He frequently shares the benefit of the industry breakout groups at the UPPO Annual Conference and the online member forum.


“If someone handling unclaimed property for a bank, for example, knows the annual conference will likely be attended by peers from 20 other banks who understand the issues they’re dealing with and are willing to share, they want to be there too,” Ryan says.


Randy Hotz, president of Choice Plus LLC, recently referred a new member to UPPO. They first met at a Michigan Senate finance committee hearing and had a series of subsequent conversations. Several times, while talking about unclaimed property issues, Hotz mentioned UPPO’s work and encouraged membership.


He focused on the association’s long track record of advocacy, professional reputation and positive standing among stakeholders, including holders, the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, individual state administrators, the American Bar Association and the Uniform Law Commission. Soon, his encouragement paid off in the form of a new UPPO member.


“For people truly interested in getting involved, it’s not that difficult to sell them on the benefit of membership,” Hotz says. The trick is identifying those people who are a little more active and motivated.”


In addition to the networking, conference and advocacy benefits, some of the other benefits that often resonate with potential members include:

  • Educational webinars and events
  • Tools and resources available on the website, including the Jurisdiction Resource Guide
  • Legislative and regulatory tracking via govWATCH  


As a token of appreciation for members who refer new members and to encourage member references, UPPO thanks referrals with a $100 gift card. To learn more about UPPO’s Membership Referral Program, access a digital version of the UPPO member packet or request printed copies, visit UPPO’s member referral web page.



Tags:  advocacy  education  membership  networking  recruitment  UPPO 

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UPPO Weighs in on Delaware v. Pennsylvania and Wisconsin

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 4, 2016

UPPO filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court of the United States on Monday, Aug. 1 asking the court to hear State of Delaware v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and State of Wisconsin, and to clarify the reach of the federal common law rules governing unclaimed property. Specifically, UPPO requests the Supreme Court clarify that the federal common law rules apply to cases involving conflicting claims among the states, and cases involving a dispute between a holder and a single state. UPPO also seeks clarification that the secondary rule protects the rights of holders against unconstitutional overreaching by states.


Case background
MoneyGram has been involved in a number of lawsuits involving Delaware, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. The states are each claiming right to MoneyGram’s Official Checks. Delaware claims MoneyGram should escheat the property to Delaware because it’s MoneyGram’s place of corporate domicile. Wisconsin and Pennsylvania argue that the Official Checks should be remitted to the jurisdiction in which the purchase took place.  While the states battle it out, Delaware has refused to indemnify MoneyGram.


Learn more about the cases involving MoneyGram which have led up to Delaware v. Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.


UPPO Government Relations and Advocacy Committee members, John Coalson of Alston & Bird, Sara Lima of Reed Smith, Ethan Millar of Alston & Bird, and Diann Smith of McDermott Will & Emery, were joined by Michael Lurie and Matthew Setzer of Reed Smith to draft the amicus brief. They laid out a number of arguments in the brief to depict the current unclaimed property landscape and why it warrants the Supreme Court’s attention and consideration.


The landscape has changed since the Supreme Court announced the common law rules in Texas v. New Jersey.
“While significant change is to be expected over a half-century, the revolution in unclaimed property is ground-breaking,” the brief states. It goes on to say that the major developments include: massive increases in the unclaimed property collected by states; legislative trends increasing state unclaimed property collections; and aggressive interpretations of the secondary rule.


Holders are caught between conflicting and competing state laws.
The Supreme Court created the federal common law rules to resolve conflicting claims of different states with “clarity and ease of application” (Texas v. New Jersey). The intention of creating the rules have been lost, and states have interpreted the federal common law rules differently, causing issues like the one that presents itself in Delaware v. Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.


Another example of conflict is how states interpret “last known address.” Texas v. New Jersey dictates that property with a “last known address” of the owner should be escheated to the state where that address is located. The problem lies in that the definition of “last known address” is different among states. The brief adds that, “For example, New Jersey regulation states that a zip code is a last known address. Connecticut and Michigan define last known address as an address sufficient for mailing.”


Holders face significant burdens in light of these conflicting and expansive state rules.
Multiple states can assert claim to property, yet the holder is required to obtain confirmation from a state that it is required to remit the disputed property to that state, and in addition, defend its choices to the multiple other states claiming the property. The Council on State Taxation conducted a study of its members and found that 61 percent spent more than $1 million dollars in staff time, legal fees and other expenses (excluding the actual assessment) to go through the motions of an unclaimed property audit.


Holders have minimal recourse.
In the past, states have argued that federal common law rules only apply to interstate disagreements, and that holders cannot raise the federal common law rules in defense. This leaves holders at risk of multiple states claiming custody of the same property.


Next steps
Its anticipated that Supreme Court will make a decision as to whether it’ll hear the case around early October. Check back for updates and more information.

Tags:  amicus curiae brief  Delaware v. Pennsylvania and Wisconsin  unclaimed property  UPPO 

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