Constitutional due process is one of the most potentially contentious issues being bandied about in the unclaimed property world. It’s a question of fairness and also a question of appropriate government power. Due process implies the government does have the right to seize property when there’s a question of ownership or when property has been abandoned, but it most clearly reflects the idea that government can’t swoop in and take property without making a reasonable effort to find owners and give them a chance to retrieve what they own.
This makes me think of the Sheriff of Nottingham in the story of Robin Hood. The sheriff was an unscrupulous character who swooped in and took property he wanted without any due process whatsoever—never mind that there were no ownership questions or periods of dormancy to justify his actions.
In today’s world (at least in developed nations), we have few real Sheriff Nottinghams, and it’s easy to imagine most legislators and state unclaimed property administrators truly do have owners’ best interests in mind. However, with recent developments in unclaimed property law, namely drastically reduced dormancy periods and gratuitous due diligence, it may seem to some we are leaning Nottingham-way.