Tag: claims

Holders: Don’t Forget That You’re Owners Too

Unclaimed Property Holders Should Take Another Look at Potential Claims

Before getting to unclaimed property news, just a quick word to our readers (both of you!):  we hope that you and your families are safe and well during these turbulent times. 

The COVID-19 crisis is, first and foremost, a human tragedy.  But even if and when the virus is tamed, and the immediate economic crisis ends, there is expected to be a significant long-term economic disruption as well.  One place where that disruption will be particularly felt is with regard to cash flow and liquidity. For companies operating on a thin margin, every dollar in the door counts.

Accordingly, this is a good time for holders of unclaimed property to remember that they very well may be owners of unclaimed property too. Often, companies do not bother searching for or claiming unclaimed property reported to the states on their behalf, thinking that the process is too cumbersome or not worth the effort.  In these changing economic times, holders would be well advised to rethink that position and at least take a look at what is out there ready for claiming.

Friday Lost & Found

A Roundup of Odds & Ends From the Week in Unclaimed Property

GAO Issues Report on Unclaimed 401(k) Funds — The Government Accountability Office, which is responsible for providing recommendations to Congress on the responsibilities of the federal government, recently issued a report concerning the application state unclaimed property laws to retirement assets such as 401(k)s. In preparing the report, GAO sent questionnaires to the unclaimed property offices of all 50 states, interviewed industry representatives, and surveyed fund and brokerage firms on their handling of these items. Among the GAO’s recommendations are that the IRS clarify the tax treatment of plans that are escheated to the state and consider allowing taxpayers whose later claim assets that were unknowingly escheated to rollover the assets into a qualified plan.

Claim Headaches — One of the benefits of modern escheat laws is that they are generally “custodial” in nature — meaning that the state takes possession of unclaimed property on the owner’s behalf, but the property does not actually become the state’s property. That said, the claim process can be a trap for the unwary. As recounted by the Mercury News, individuals seeking to claim property from the state face (at least) paperwork and (at worst) scammers that try to take some or all of the money owed to the claimant. The article recounts these problems and has a number of tips for claimants. It is worth a review for those considering filing a claim.

2016 Uniform Act News — States continue to work on legislation relating to the 2016 Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act.The Washington state legislature is currently considering such a bill, as are lawmakers in Nevada. and South Carolina.

New York Finds $1.67M in Unclaimed Funds Belonging to . . . New York? A Lesson in Claiming

According to an article in Monday’s Daily News by Erin Durkin, New York City Public Advocate Letitia James and her staff found over $1.67M in over 2,000 accounts held by the New York Office of Unclaimed Funds on behalf of New York City agencies, departments, and organizations.  As the article notes, many of the accounts may have been missed in earlier reviews by the City because of owner names in the state database that might have been abbreviated or misspelled.

The article raises an important lesson for owners searching the state’s database for unclaimed property — the information in the state’s database is only as good as what gets reported.  If an owner’s name is abbreviated or misspelled on the holder’s report, it will probably be that way on the state’s database.  So, in searching for your property, don’t forget to try common or likely misspellings or abbreviations of your (or your company’s) name.  For example, if you were searching for property held for the Alphabet Boat & Cargo Corporation, you might be well advised to run searches for all of the following:

  • Alphabet Boat & Cargo
  • Alphabet Boat and Cargo
  • Alphabet Boat + Cargo
  • Alphabett Boat Cargo (or other misspellings)
  • Cargo, Alphabet Boat (in case reported in Last Name, First Name format)
  • ABC Corp
  • ABC Company

The article also serves as a reminder to holders to try to report owner names accurately and consistently.  Doing so will make it more likely that the owner can locate his or her property in the future.