Abandoned Property Location Service Providers
The State Comptroller, whose longstanding view is that the rightful owners should claim their abandoned funds without charge, strongly encourages everyone to contact the Office of Unclaimed Funds directly to determine if we are holding funds that rightfully belong to them. Our Office provides this information for free through the Internet, our Communication Center, mail inquiry and public outreach. There is no charge for processing claims or returning abandoned funds.
If you are interested in becoming a provider of “Abandoned Property Location Services” in New York State, or if you have been contacted by someone who claims they can help you obtain your funds held by this Office, please read the following requirements and procedures.
Recent changes relating to “Abandoned Property Location Services”
On August 1, 2012, the New York State Abandoned Property Law (APL) §1416 was amended, and General Business Law §393-e was added. The text of the legislation can be viewed here.
This new legislation, which takes effect on September 29, 2012, defines “abandoned property location services”, and specifies the language and format of an agreement between providers offering “abandoned property location services” and their clients.
This law applies to any person, corporation, association, partnership or other entity which sells or offers to sell “abandoned property location services” in New York State. This section does not apply to a client's agreement with an attorney or accountant where:
- The services in question can only be performed by an attorney or accountant;
- There is a pre-existing relationship between the attorney or accountant and the client;
- The agreement results from an effort initiated by the client to engage the attorney or accountant.
Requirements and Procedures for “Abandoned Property Location Services”
While licensing or registration is not required, the State Comptroller’s Office of Unclaimed Funds requires abandoned property location service providers to:
- Have direct contact with the account owner, or the account owner’s duly appointed representative, such as one of the following:
- The Executor/Administrator of the estate;
- The account owner’s heirs;
- An attorney acting on the behalf of the account owner;
"Abandoned funds held by the State can be obtained directly from the Office of the State Comptroller by the owner of such funds without paying a fee. These funds are held indefinitely by the Office of the State Comptroller at 800-221-9311 or www.osc.state.ny.us".
The agreement must disclose nature of the unclaimed property and indicate the percentage value of the fee to be charged.
Note – the maximum fee allowable is 15% of the funds recovered. If the fee is not clearly indicated at 15% or less or if it is stipulated as a set dollar value that exceeds 15% of the value of the recovered funds, the agreement is not valid and will be rejected.
- An original signed agreement. (The claimant should sign two originals — one for the Office of Unclaimed Funds and one for the service provider.)
- A claim form or letter indicating the account owner’s complete name, address, at least one account number (OUF code) as it appears in the item details of the unclaimed funds list and the claimant’s full name and current address.
Upon receipt, the Office of Unclaimed Funds will initially send an acknowledgment of the claim with a claim reference number to the service provider. We will then verify that the agreement complies with the provisions previously stated prior to researching the claim and initiating the claim process.
Service providers will be advised regarding the funds located and what additional documentation, if necessary, must be provided. After appropriate documentation is provided and the claim is fully processed and approved, our Office will issue a refund check made payable to the claimant, which will be mailed in accordance with the provisions of the Abandoned Property Location Service Providers’ agreement.
It is the responsibility of the service provider to collect the fee from their clients. The Office of Unclaimed Funds does not charge a processing fee to service providers or claimants and is not involved in the fee collection process.
More information on legal requirements for Abandoned Property Location Service Providers is available from: McKinney’s Consolidated Laws of the State of New York, Book 2½; Thomson West, 610 Opperman Drive, P.O. Box 64526, St. Paul, MN 55164-0526, (651) 687-7000, www.west.thomson.com
Note: Section 13-2.3 of the Estates, Powers & Trusts Law (“EPTL”) requires that “every power of attorney relating to an interest in a decedent’s estate and every conveyance or assignment of an interest in an estate or similar instrument which contains an express or implied authorization or delegation of power to act there under” must be in writing and acknowledged, and recorded in the office of the Surrogate’s Court having jurisdiction over the New York estate. Abandoned Property Location Service Provider Agreements are documents subject to this requirement (see, In re Betlem, 300 A.D.2d 1026 (4th Dept. 2002). Therefore, in order to ensure compliance with this requirement, where a service provider is representing an executor, administrator or other person(s) with any interest in an estate where the decedent was a New York domiciliary, effective January 1, 2008, OUF will require service providers to submit a court certified copy of their Abandoned Property Location Service Provider Agreement, which has been duly filed with the appropriate Surrogate’s Court, for all claims filed with this Office on or after such date. If an executor or administrator was appointed for the estate, the agreement must be filed in the Surrogate’s Court that issued the Letters of appointment. If no executor or administrator was appointed, then the agreement must be filed in the county in which the decedent was domiciled. This recording requirement applies to Abandoned Property Location Service Provider Agreements relating to any interest in a New York domiciliary decedent’s estate or conveyance or assignment of an interest in any such estate, including agreements entered into with heirs, fiduciaries and persons with any other interest in an estate, and applies to all New York estates whether Letters are required or small estates where no estate representative has been appointed.
While the use of finders is not encouraged, the State Comptroller’s Office of Unclaimed Funds is required to make available a list containing the names and last-known addresses of those persons who may be entitled to unclaimed funds. The list indicates the nature of the property, and when and by whom the property was reported. Privacy provisions of State and Federal law do not permit the disclosure of amounts held for individual items or the taxpayer identification (social security) number listed for an item. To search the list online, visit the State Comptroller’s Internet site, and click on the icon for Unclaimed Funds. The Unclaimed Funds Owner database is also available for download and contains a search program and the owner name and address data in DBF format.