MarketSphere received correspondence on April 3, 2020 from the office of Delaware’s Secretary of State (SOS), regarding the latest round of VDA invitations mailed to companies in February 2020. As a consequence of the COVID 19 pandemic, the SOS is extending the regular 60-day response deadline by 30 days. Invited companies will now have until May 22, 2020 to respond to the SOS. The correspondence also provides details regarding how best to communicate with the SOS during the current state of emergency.
The correspondence states:
Important update on the February 2020 invitations: The Secretary of State (“SOS”) is encouraging companies who know they want to enroll in the VDA Program to send in a completed VDA-1 within the prescribed 60-day timeframe. Due to the current state of emergency declared by Governor John Carney as well as many other declarations made across the country and the world, the SOS, in consultation with the Department of Finance and the State Escheator, realizes that many companies have not had full access to their mail or the proper time to route the invitation to the appropriate individual(s). As a result, holders who received an invitation from the SOS to join the VDA Program during February 2020 will be allowed to join the SOS VDA Program through May 22, 2020. After May 22, 2020, all companies that do not enroll in the SOS VDA will be referred to the State Escheator for examination. Holders should be mindful that, under Delaware law, they may not join the VDA Program after a Notice of Examination has been mailed by the State Escheator.
All VDA-1s and other communications should be sent to us via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and not regular mail at this time. Please email email@example.com if you need an electronic version of the VDA-1 that can be signed through DocuSign.
As of March 17, 2020, all communications should be sent electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org until further notice.
Please do not send communications only through regular mail as our staff is telecommuting with limited access to the office and mailed documents may not be processed timely.
As the correspondence notes, recipient companies must respond to these notices by May 22, 2020 or they will be referred to the State Escheator, who would then have the option to commence an unclaimed property audit.
In general, notifications from Delaware are addressed to senior corporate executives. With respect to the VDA invitation, they often do not reach the person or group responsible for unclaimed property compliance in time to meet the new 90-day deadline and prevent an audit. Our recommendation for companies incorporated in Delaware, or companies with significant operations in Delaware, is for the person responsible for unclaimed property compliance to make immediate inquiries to determine if any unclaimed property letter has been received from either the Delaware Secretary of State or the Delaware Department of Finance.
Any corporation that receives a notice letter from Delaware may want to consider contacting an unclaimed property advisor who has the experience to assist holders understand what options could be available and determine the course of action that may need to be taken.