Why do States discourage owners from paying a professional to handle their unclaimed property claim?
It’s true that many people can, and do, recover their property without paying fees to a service provider. It is also true that people regularly pay for services that they can do themselves. In fact, National Public Radio recently reported that for the first time in American history, Americans spent more money going out for a meal than they spent on groceries!
We live in a service driven economy. So, why would States be so adamant in discouraging people from paying someone to help them recover their property? Could it be that State’s know that a greater percentage of property will be returned to owners if they have greater access to professional claim specialists?
The Unclaimed Property Law
The Unclaimed Property Law has a dual objective: (1) to reunite owners with unclaimed funds or property, and (2) to give the public, rather than holders (banks, insurance companies, securities brokers, etc.), the benefit of the use of unclaimed funds or property while unclaimed. The secondary purpose is subordinate the primary purpose of unclaimed property law.
To illustrate how one could reasonably presume that a state may interpret laws in favor of retaining property, read State Dept. of Financial Services v. O’Connor, 155 So. 3d 479 (2015) The State Dept. of Financial Services argued, “If Florida unclaimed property is to be remitted to “missing owner” judgment creditors, there will be less funds available to benefit the people of the State of Florida.”
The court replied, “But the thirst for funds for governmental purposes in unslakable, and not a recognized legal grounds to deprive Ms. O’Connor of the funds her ex-husband owes her and her family.”
Florida denied valid creditor claims 20 years before the O’Connor decision. Choice Plus, LLC provided O’Connor the financial support and knowledge required to obtain this landmark decision.
Is it possible that the secondary purpose unclaimed property law – allowing states to use unclaimed property to pay for public programs – can work against the interests of owners?
Is it possible that states can overreach in their efforts to protect unclaimed property owners?
Is it possible that well intentioned laws have become roadblocks to an owner’s efforts to recover their property?
Seeds of Change: Unclaimed Property in Florida and California
California and Florida laws allow for easy access to paid service providers. Each of these states return approximately 14% more than the national average. A 14% increase in the return of unclaimed property across the nation would equate to an additional $8 billion being returned to owners.
Even if owners paid an average 20% of their property to service providers, $6.4 billion would go directly to owners and $1.6 billion would go towards creating new jobs and related business expenditures.
If returning property to owners is the primary objective of each state, then all states should refrain from discouraging people from paying for services. A neutral position would be for administrators to inform people that they may claim the property on their own and if they chose to pay someone to help them, they should advise the owner to carefully consider the qualifications of their service provider.
If you have unclaimed property, we strongly suggest that you consider your options before you file your claim. Hiring a qualified unclaimed property specialist may be the best option for you.
Contact one of our professionals to discuss how we can help you reclaim your property.