02/17/2009 08:43:17 AM EST
Uniformity in Unclaimed Property: States Make New Efforts to Simplify Reporting
Significant disparity exists among the states in terms of their unclaimed property reporting requirements. However, an increasing number of states are recognizing that the benefits of identifying best practices, establishing national standards, and achieving, to whatever degree possible, uniformity. In an Emerging Issues Analysis, Lynden Lyman, the managing director of the ACS Unclaimed Property Clearinghouse in Boston, discusses this changing area of law. Following are excerpts:
As every unclaimed property practitioner knows, there is a significant amount of disparity between the states in terms of their unclaimed property reporting requirements. Indeed, at times it seems as if each of the states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands all possess vastly different laws, reporting protocols, and interpretations. While differences between states are to be expected, there are areas of unclaimed property administration that would seem to benefit all constituencies--states, reporting entities and, most importantly, owners--if some standardization could be achieved. Fortunately, an increasing number of states are recognizing that the benefits of identifying best practices, establishing national standards, and achieving- to whatever degree possible- uniformity.
The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), a non-profit organization affiliated with the National Association of State Treasurers that represents the interests of state unclaimed property administrators, has been diligently working for more than a year to specifically address the issue of improving and simplifying unclaimed property reporting through greater uniformity. NAUPA, whose stated goals include promoting uniformity among the states “whenever possible,” has appointed a Uniformity and Standardization Steering Committee, which has in turn created various subcommittees to examine specific areas.
“Our approach has been to start by working on the simpler issues, and try to score a few victories before we take on the tougher issues,” comments Stephen Larson, a 23- year “veteran” of the Iowa State Treasurer’s Office and the current NAUPA president.
“So far, I am pleased to report that we have been successful in updating uniform negative reporting procedures, and the model holder reimbursement form. I am very hopeful that during 2008, the states can make considerable progress in resolving the relationship code problem. The huge number of codes and the differences among states creates headaches for holders, and opens the possibility that the state could pay the wrong claimant,” Larson added.