Don't believe the hype.

It is unfortunate how rare it is to find an honest news piece that reports the facts about the world of unclaimed property - A little understood, yet enormous cash generating aspect of government.

I recently read a quote by the Alabama State Treasure that was published by ABC News: 

"Nothing gives us more satisfaction than to give you your money," remarks State Treasurer Young Boozer.

Ironically, the State is holding $672,000,000, having paid out $114,000,000 over the last 5 years.  That equates to approximately $28,000,000 per year in payouts, or a quite inadequate 4% per year. 

More scandalous is the fact that in 2013, Boozer supported legislation that stripped citizens personal assets from the unclaimed property fund to be used to fund his treasury department; and increased the regulations that allow companies like Fletcher from helping return these accounts.  No longer is the State a custodian, they are deceptively looting this money to fund the government and making sure that no one gets in the way.

And Boozer had the audacity to declare that the legislation would benefit taxpayers.  

Boozer is not alone, this behavior is happening all across the country, as the government needs to find increasingly clever ways to fund its obligations.

It is interesting that these news stories, really fluff pieces, never disclose how private auditors are paid handsomely by the Government to identify ever increasing amounts of unclaimed property eligible for escheat under ever more liberal regulations.

The message is clear - It is okay for the Government to pay a professional to abscond with the citizens personal assets, but it is not okay for the citizens to pay a professional to recover this money.

Working with a professional recovery outfit like Fletcher is an incredible resource to have in the struggle to recover unclaimed property, and the contingency fee we charge aligns our interests with our clients.  To paraphrase from Mr. Boozer:

Nothing gives us more satisfaction than recovering money for our customers.

Don't believe the hype.  

Faced with revenue shortfall, Mississippi took $14 million from the state’s Abandoned Property Fund

This troubling development in the ever evolving use of the public's abandoned funds.  Rather than make an effort to return this money to the people, the effort is made auditing business' to marshal these funds for the ultimate use of funding budget deficits of mismanaged government.

While Fletcher charges a reasonable fee for our efforts; we are transparent in our mission.  Even if you choose not to work with us, our outreach empowers you with the knowledge that there is money owed to you by the government.

Of course working with Fletcher is the easiest, streamlined approach which allows you the highest likelihood of success in recovering your assets.  Our team has the experience to overcome any illegitimate claim denial.

You can read more about the Mississippi situation here - 

MS Revenue shortfall

Delaware apparently protected two scientists out of $12,024,148.25.

Two Belgian scientists who headed the research team responsible for creating a Hepatitis B drug were awarded shares in the company that commercially developed the drug, Idenix.  

Yet another example of a state being much less concerned about returning property to its rightful owner (as it should be) and more concerned with using the unclaimed property laws as a revenue raising tool.

"Despite the facts that (a) both Idenix and Computershare (their transfer agent) had record of the mailing address of the scientists and no mail was ever returned undeliverable—as required by Delaware law at the time for property to be deemed abandoned— and (b) that the scientists both continued to perform professional services for Idenix, Computershare reported the Idenix shares to Delaware in November 2008 and delivered all of the shares to Delaware on January 2, 2009.  Three days later, Delaware sold the shares for a total of $1,695,851.75 (approximately $3.03 per share). At the time, Idenix had approximately 50 shareholders, and the market for the shares was illiquid.

After making an inquiry concerning the stock to Computershare three years later in 2012, the plaintiffs learned that their shares had been escheated to Delaware. Upon contacting the Delaware Office of Unclaimed Property to claim their property, the plaintiffs were forced to provide substantial documentation verifying their status as the rightful owner, which they did in October and December 2012. After over a year of “pending” status, the plaintiffs were directed to complete a “Request Form” in May 2013, at which time it was noted that a response could take another 12 weeks.

On June 9, 2014, Merck and Idenix announced that Merck would acquire Idenix via a cash tender offer for $24.50 per share. Because the plaintiffs’ shares had been escheated to (and immediately sold by) Delaware in 2009, they were not able to participate in the tender offer despite their desire to. Had they been able to participate, the plaintiffs would have been entitled to receive a total of $13,720,000 for their shares. Meanwhile, Delaware had still not responded regarding the status of their claim. Notably, it was not until October 2014 (over two years after their initial request) that the Delaware Office of Unclaimed Property confirmed that the plaintiffs Idenix shares were sold (and for how much). The plaintiffs subsequently completed a claim for the market value of their shares (i.e., $13.72 million based on the Merck tender offer). Delaware immediately responded that they could only refund $1,695,851.75, and could do so without any additional documentation—which had previously delayed the process. Without agreeing to the lower amount, Delaware took the initiative to send the plaintiffs a check for the lesser amount.  The plaintiffs accepted the check in June, after agreeing that the acceptance would not affect their rights to seek recovery of the remaining amount of their claim. In July, they filed this complaint."

Read the full article here.

The article is written by Stephen P. Krantz, Diann Smith and Eric Carstens and published on insidesalt.com.

Insurance companies have willfully been denying beneficiaries the opportunity to collect on small life insurance poilicies

It has typically been the responsibility of beneficiaries to notify insurers of a policyholder’s death, but a series of national agreements between states and roughly 20 life insurers showed that $4.4 billion in policy proceeds had not gone to beneficiaries.

Franklin Freeman, a lobbyist for the National Alliance of Life Companies, which includes smaller life and health insurance companies, said requiring companies to go through hundreds of thousands of old policies recorded on paper would cost the companies more than what the policies were worth. Most of the policies in dispute paid death benefits of roughly a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.


Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/news/politics-government/article31660067.html#storylink=cpy

 

Read more - 

Payouts on old life insurance policies could rise under NC legislation

 

Attorney alleges use of Unclaimed Property Fund is illegal

OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma City attorney claims the state is essentially operating a Ponzi scheme by routinely raiding its Unclaimed Property Fund and using money that belongs to its citizens to fund state government operations.

Attorney Jerry Fent alleges in a lawsuit filed Monday in Oklahoma County District Court that transfers from the Unclaimed Property Fund maintained by the state treasurer's office are illegal.

The Legislature routinely takes money from the fund to help balance the state budget, including about $50 million to help close a budget hole this year.

Treasurer's office spokesman Tim Allen said he had not seen the lawsuit and declined comment on the specifics of it.

Allen confirmed the fund has a current balance of about $90 million with outstanding liabilities of about $550 million.

 

AP • Published: June 22, 2015

Getting money back from state can be difficult

Article posted in the Lancaster, PA newspaper. 

...stacks of paperwork or the two years of frustration and expense...put into getting back what was already rightfully theirs.

When the state receives hundreds of millions of dollars in "unclaimed" property each year, the money is promptly put into the general fund, Historically, only about half the account holders will successfully claim their money, allowing the government to have a cash flow of unclaimed money to use.

Read more

 

PA tripled its collection of unclaimed money in 2015

Pa couldn't balance its budget, so it just changed the law to shorten dormancy periods and allow more of its citizens money to be abandoned to the State.  Even worse, by law, the state  It is not obligated to pay out dividends or interest accrued during the time it holds the assets.

It took in $625 million this fiscal year, which is nearly 3 times the previous years rake.  

The State declares this action a consumer protection law.  Then they go ahead and use $625 million interest free for perpetuity.  

 

You can read more here:

 

http://lancasteronline.com/news/local/state-balances-budget-on-unclaimed-property/article_6474842a-033e-11e5-bcb0-0f5ba23d2daf.html

 

 

CA Unclaimed property policy has conflict, needs improvement, state report says

California’s potential liability for unclaimed property currently exceeds $7 billion. However, state officials estimate the actual liability is around $850 million because some of the assets are untraceable or because the owners may have died or moved to another state, reducing the likelihood of a claim being filed, the report stated.

Read the full article at the link below - 

http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-ln-unclaimed-property-program-has-conflict-needs-improvement-state-report-says-20150210-story.html