Ohio AG Signals Potential End to Dispute Over Interest

by admin

Ohio citizens who have claimed abandoned property from the state in recent years may soon be closer to collecting interest on those amounts. 

In some jurisdictions, the state does not have to pay interest on unclaimed property claims, notwithstanding the fact that the state earns interest on the money while it has custody of the funds.  In 1991, for example, the Ohio Unclaimed Property Act was amended to provide that interest was no longer payable to owners claiming property to the state.  In 2009, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the new law denying interest was unconstitutional.  In so doing, the court reasoned that noted that the Ohio Unclaimed Property Act was custodial in nature — in other words, the state takes custody of, but not legal title to the funds.  The Ohio Supreme Court’s 2009 decision, however, did not end the case.  The Supreme Court sent the case back down to the lower court for additional proceedings.

Some consumers have (understandably) gotten a little restless waiting for case to finally conclude.  All of this has put Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in a tough spot.  As Attorney General, Mr. DeWine is charged with representing both the interests of state agencies, as well as consumers.  Now, Jenn Strathman of ABC affiliate WEWS-5 (Cleveland) is reporting that the AG wants to settle the case.  Specifically, General DeWine told WEWS that he hoped the case is settled “fairly soon.”

Why so much interest in interest?  According to the article, the Ohio Department of Commerce (which administers the unclaimed property program) estimated that the inerest payout will exceed $74 million.  If you think you are among those entitled to additional funds, more information can be found at the Department of Commerce’s website here.