Month: April, 2018

Kentucky Passes Version of 2016 Uniform Unclaimed Property Act

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin recently signed House Bill 394 into law, which enacts a version of the 2016 Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act promulgated by the Uniform Law Commission.  The new law incorporates many of the Uniform Act’s structural and procedural changes, including the establishment of a formalized audit appeal procedure, detailed provisions relating to confidentiality, and rules relating to the reporting and remittance of unclaimed life insurance policies.

The adoption of the Uniform Act provisions also resulted in some substantive changes from the earlier Kentucky Unclaimed Property Act.  For example:

  • The dormancy period for money orders has increased from 3 years to 7 years;
  • The dormancy “trigger” for securities has changed from inactivity to a returned mail standard;
  • Stored value cards are now expressly covered by the Act, with a dormancy period of 3 years from December 31 of the year or issuance or last activity.

Kentucky is the fifth state to adopt a version of the 2016 Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act.

In addition to implementing the 2016 Uniform Unclaimed Property Act, the new law also requires the State Treasurer to submit a report to the legislature regarding the “status of the abandoned property fund” at the end of the year.

 

 

Texas District Court Finds Unclaimed Oil and Gas Royalties Are Not Property of the Estate

A recent bankruptcy case raising unclaimed property related issues, as described by my colleague, Bradley Lehman, an attorney with MDM&C’s Bankruptcy Practice.

A recent opinion from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, on appeal from the bankruptcy court in the District, is likely to have broad applicability in pending and future energy producer bankruptcy cases. In Oklahoma State Treasurer v. Linn Operating, Inc., 6:17-CV-0066, 2018 WL 1535354 (S.D. Tex., March 29, 2018), the Chapter 11 plan filed by Linn Operating LLC, an Oklahoma-based oil and gas producer, provided that the claims of owners of the approximately $1 million in unclaimed royalties held by the debtor would be discharged upon confirmation of the plan and the debtor would retain the funds. The bankruptcy court confirmed the plan, and the State of Oklahoma filed an adversary action against the debtor seeking turnover of the unclaimed royalties to the state. The bankruptcy court dismissed the complaint, finding that the adversary case was merely a post-confirmation collateral attack on the debtor’s plan.

Oklahoma appealed the dismissal of its adversary case to the Southern District of Texas, and Judge Kenneth M. Hoyt entered an opinion reversing the bankruptcy court’s decision. The District Court found that, as a matter of state law, unclaimed oil and gas royalties are held in trust by the producer for the owners of the royalties. Therefore, the unclaimed royalties were never property of the debtor’s bankruptcy and were not subject to the bankruptcy court’s jurisdiction or to confirmation of the debtor’s Chapter 11 plan.