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Clive Cohen

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8/25/16 10:16 AM

Give ‘Em Their Due: Refusal of Supreme Court to Hear Unclaimed Property Due Process Case

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.

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Topics: Due Diligence, California, U.P. Law

8/5/16 10:00 AM

Could Delaware Battle Over Official Checks Result in Increased Federal Oversight of Unclaimed Property?

In the recent tug of war between Delaware, MoneyGram and several other states over the escheatment fate of uncashed “official checks,” one of the most interesting points is the potential involvement of the Supreme Court.

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Topics: U.P. Law

7/28/16 2:50 PM

It’s Mine! Questions of Unclaimed Property Ownership

On June 13, 2016, Microsoft announced plans to acquire the well-known, business-focused social media site LinkedIn for $26.2 billion. If we can believe Wikipedia, LinkedIn becomes the 196th company Microsoft has acquired since its initial public offering in 1986. Microsoft has also acquired stakes in 65 companies, and divested itself of 31 companies

That means the Microsoft unclaimed property team has taken on more than 200 new sets of unclaimed property problems—and transitioned out of 31. Every one of those M&A transactions had a unique set of conditions and details, including issues related to ownership of the property. It may seem simple. Isn’t property owned by the person whose name is on the property record? In most cases, that’s true, but if an owner can’t be found, the state of ownership might have changed.

This is just one potential ownership-related issue that can be encountered during the processing of unclaimed property. Below are several other ownership issues you might come across, along with some caveats and advice to help you get ownership right

Mergers and acquisitions

If your company acquires or merges with another company, it may take some time to understand the state of the new company’s unclaimed property records. To get to the bottom of ownership, it’s a good idea to make no assumptions and complete due diligence yourself if you are going to take responsibility for escheatment. On the other hand, the best recourse may be to include resolution of all outstanding unclaimed property as a clause in the contract before the transaction is completed.

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Topics: Due Diligence, Reporting

7/1/16 11:24 AM

Has Temple-Inland Secured a Big Win for All Unclaimed Property Holders?

On June 28, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware issued a potential landmark unclaimed property audit-related memorandum opinion in the case between Temple-Inland and the State of Delaware. The decision is very satisfying for holders who have either experienced extreme extrapolation and sampling methods conducted by third-party auditors during audits (especially on behalf of Delaware) — or have feared they might be in such a situation in the future.

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