Reforms announced on National Unclaimed Property Day
State Treasurer Riley Moore today announced his Office is proposing legislation that could streamline the processes for West Virginians to claim unclaimed property, including reforms that will allow the Office to automatically send checks to some residents who have property in their name.
“Since taking over as Treasurer last year, my staff and I have been focused on finding ways to modernize and streamline our Unclaimed Property program,” Treasurer Moore said. “The proposals we are advancing this year will help reduce the paperwork burden for claims, make it easier for individuals to find out what they’re owed and speed up the amount of time it takes to send them their money.”
Treasurer Moore announced the legislation to coincide with the Feb. 1 observance of National Unclaimed Property Day, which is being promoted by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators to raise awareness for this critical consumer protection program.
“In West Virginia, we have more than 3 million unclaimed property listings on file with our Office, totaling more than $300 million, and we want to get that money back to its rightful owners,” Treasurer Moore said. “We believe the legislation that will be introduced in the coming days will help us return this money to its owners more quickly and efficiently.”
The bill containing the reforms has been submitted to the Legislature and should be formally introduced within the next week. Delegate Daniel Linville, R-Cabell, will be the lead sponsor of the bill.
Among its provisions, the bill will:
- Modernize Unclaimed Property laws to reflect new technology and methods of doing business, including electronic paperwork filing and virtual currencies.
- Reduce the amount of paperwork needed for common transactions.
- Allow people to find out how much they’re owed before completing the process of filing a claim.
- Make it easier for families to settle estates for deceased loved ones.
- Reduce the amount of time for when certain properties are deemed abandoned, expediting the process of reconnecting it with its owner.
- Create an easier process for settling abandoned safe deposit boxes.
- Increase transparency and require the Treasurer’s Office to publish an annual report on the Unclaimed Property program.
Additionally, the bill will create a more automated approach to claims processing which will allow many West Virginians to be reunited with their missing money automatically – no paperwork required.
Under this new program, which will be called “WV Cash Now,” the Unclaimed Property Division will be able to quickly issue checks to residents who already have addresses and contact information that are readily verifiable in legal databases.
“If this bill becomes law, it will revolutionize how we process unclaimed property in West Virginia and help us get this money back to its owners in a more timely fashion,” Treasurer Moore said. “This money belongs to the people, and we’re committed to doing everything we can to get it back to them as quickly as possible.”
Unclaimed property can include financial accounts or items of value in which the owner has not initiated any activity for one year or longer. Common examples include unpaid life insurance benefits, forgotten bank accounts and unused rebate cards. (While the title includes the word “property,” it does not however include real estate.)
West Virginians searching for lost financial assets can go to www.wvtreasury.com, then click on the large Unclaimed Property “Search” button to the right of the page under the heading, “Are We Holding Your Money?”