Judge Considers State's Unclaimed Property Program

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(Sacramento, CA)
Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Sacramento-area attorney William Palmer represents a dozen people whose property was confiscated by the state:

“Private retirement funds have been seized and sold.  The contents of safety deposit boxes have been seized and sold.  Basically if you haven’t heard from someone in three years or less and that person was watching your property – a bank of a corporation – your property has probably been seized and sold.”

Palmer says for years State Controllers haven’t notified people properly – he says they’ve used the unclaimed property as extra state revenue.  He’s asked a judge to appoint a Special Master to oversee the program.  A judge is expected to issue an injunction with new guidelines.  Under state law, items and accounts are considered abandoned if there’s been no contact with owners for three years.  The state can then claim those assets.  State Controller John Chiang is sponsoring legislation he says will reform the unclaimed property program, and allow his office to better contact people.