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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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2018 Unclaimed Property Legislative Roundup

Posted By Administration with contribution by Marcella Easly, senior compliance advisor at UPCR, Thursday, July 12, 2018

Unclaimed property continues to be a popular topic for state legislatures. Although a handful of state legislatures are still in session, most have completed their work. Following is a brief summary of some of the noteworthy unclaimed property bills that became law during the 2018 session. 

 

Arizona

Effective on July 1, 2018, Arizona S.B. 1412 revises provisions concerning unclaimed property credits of electric cooperatives. Among its provisions, it allows a cooperative to use all unclaimed capital credits or fees for any lawful purpose that is consistent with the cooperative’s bylaws and authorized by the cooperative’s board of directors. Additionally, the bill exempts unclaimed capital credits and fees from the state’s Unclaimed Property Act. It also prohibits an individual, corporation, business association or other organization from diverting personal property to circumvent the unclaimed property process.

 

Effective on April 17. 2018, Arizona S.B. 1264 prohibits a gift card from being subject to a fee, except as noted. It also states that the underlying monies on a gift card may not be subject to an expiration date, though a gift card, code or device associated with a gift card may contain an expiration date if certain conditions are met.

 

Hawaii

Effective on Jan. 1, 2019, Hawaii S.B. 208 adopts the National Conference of Insurance Legislators’ Model Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act, which requires life insurers to conduct database searches using the federal Social Security Administration’s death master file or similar database to determine whether an insured has died. It requires life insurers to use good faith efforts to locate any beneficiaries to a policy, contract or retained asset account.

 

Indiana

Effective on July 1, 2018, Indiana S.B. 376 provides, for purposes of the unclaimed property act, that a time deposit that is automatically renewable is considered matured upon the expiration of its initial period, unless: (1) the owner has consented to a renewal at the time of the account opening or at about the time of the renewal; and (2) the consent is in writing or is evidenced by the original account agreement or by any memorandum or other record on file with the holder of the account.

 

Kentucky

Effective on July 14, 2018, Kentucky H.B. 394 enacts the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act of 2016. it also requires the State Treasurer to submit a report on the status of the abandoned property fund to the Legislative Research Commission by December 15, 2018.

 

Missouri

Effective on Aug. 28, 2018, Missouri S.B. 644 creates the crime of failure to register with the state treasurer to claim property on behalf of another person for a fee, set as a class A misdemeanor. The claim form will provide notice of the requirement to register with the treasurer if one is acting as a compensated representative for another individual entitled to unclaimed property. It also allows the treasurer to review and withhold any claim until he or she is reasonably satisfied that the claim is legitimate and that the person making the claim is aware of the nature and potential value of his or her claim.

 

Effective on Aug, 28, 2018, Missouri H.B. 1879 revises notification and abandonment requirements pertaining to consumer deposit accounts with a banking or financial organization.

 

Effective on Aug. 28, 2018, Missouri S.B. 769 provides that whenever a consumer deposit account with a banking organization or financial organization has been inactive for 12 months or more and inactivity fees apply, the organization must notify the account holder of such inactivity through first class mail postage prepaid marked “Address Correction Requested” or through electronic notice if the consumer has agreed to this. Additionally, the bank must send annual statements for such account and charge a fee up to $5 per statement.

 

Pennsylvania

Effective on Dec. 25, 2018, Pennsylvania H.B. 152 requires life insurance providers to participate in the Life Policy Locator Service adopted by NAIC.

 

South Dakota

Effective on Jan. 1, 2019, South Dakota H.B. 45 revises certain provisions regarding the sale of unclaimed property. It extends the timeframe before the state treasurer can sell abandoned stocks, bonds, and other negotiable instruments from 90 to 180 days.

 

Utah

Effective on May 8, 2018, Utah S.B. 156 defines various terms, subjects stored-value cards and payroll cards to the Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act, provides a time period after which a stored-value card is considered unclaimed property, exempts 529 educational savings accounts from certain provisions, and addresses the State Tax Commission's responsibilities with regard to unclaimed property.

 

Virginia

Effective on July 1, 2018, Virginia S.B. 253 and H.B. 686 clarify the criteria that must be met for a bank or other financial organization to impose charges or cease to pay interest on a dormant or inactive account that differs from those imposed on active accounts. The holder may reverse or cancel dormancy charges or retroactively credit interest upon the request of the owner if it also does so for all such property that becomes subject to certain unclaimed property reporting requirements.

 

Wisconsin

Effective on April 5, 2018, Wisconsin S.B. 274 implements the Model Unclaimed Life Insurance Benefits Act prepared by the National Conference of Insurance Legislators. Generally, the bill addresses the obligations of an insurer providing life insurance policies, annuities, or retained asset accounts with respect to identifying insureds who have died and their beneficiaries.

 

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

Tags:  Arizona  Hawaii  Indiana  Kentucky  legislation  Missouri  Pennsylvania  South Dakota  unclaimed property  Utah  Virginia  Wisconsin 

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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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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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