Those responsible for managing and reporting unclaimed property look at the various obligations sitting on their books and realize properties may not be due to be turned over to states for another year, 3 years, 5 years or, for some states and property types, another 7 years and cause them to think, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I could report properties early?”
Some states do allow for early reporting of properties. In fact, the 2016 Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act not only addresses reporting property early, but, unlike previous uniform acts, the 2016 Revised Unclaimed Property Act stipulates that once reported and accepted by the state, the property is presumed abandoned and can be claimed by the rightful owner. Previous uniform acts stated abandonment was not presumed until after the relevant dormancy period had run even if the property was being held by the state.
The processes and stipulations for reporting properties early vary with each jurisdiction. Holders should be very diligent about researching statutes or engage with an unclaimed property professional firm before making the decision to report any property types early.
Benefits of Performing Early Reporting Activities:
- Allows holders to clear obligations earlier by turning them over to the states
- Early due diligence efforts increases likelihood of owner contact
- Streamlines due diligence efforts
- States have various records (DMV, tax, Dept. of Labor, etc.) for contacting the rightful owner
- By allowing early reporting of properties, this consolidates where an owner’s properties are held therefore making it easier for the owner to locate more properties owed to him/her since they are now held by just the state rather than both the state and the holder.
Possible Risks for Early Reporting of Properties:
- If prior approval is required by a state but not received, your entire report could be rejected
- Certain property type(s) may not allow for early reporting due to federal requirements (e.g. securities accounts)
- If a holder is not a consistent good-faith holder, then it could draw unwanted attention from the state
Take nothing for granted! To report properly, follow each state’s holder manual or other published guidelines. If it’s not obvious regarding if or which type of property you can report early, consult with that particular state administrator. Where uncertainty exists, involving an experienced escheat consultant can provide clarity and direction. For more resources, check out MarketSphere’s Unclaimed Property Specialists Knowledge Vault.