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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Glossary

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Abandoned or Unclaimed Property
State law requires banks, insurance companies, utilities, and other businesses to turn dormant savings accounts, unclaimed insurance and stock dividends, and other inactive holdings over to the State. If there has been no activity in the account for a set period of time, usually between two and five years, your money is considered unclaimed or abandoned.

Acitivity
Action taken on property by the owner, including making a deposit or a withdrawal, or direct correspondence by the owner to the holder.

Aggregate Amount
The dollar amount under which the holder is not required to report owner name/address and is permitted to group items by property type and report the total of that grouping.  In New York, the aggregate amount is $20.

Apparent Owner
The owner of unclaimed property according to the books and records of the holder.

Blank Claim Form
This form can be used to complete general searches of the OUF database for owners, heirs or company representatives who cannot or do not wish to complete their claim online.

Broker
A stock broker or stockbroker is a regulated professional broker who buys and sells shares and other securities through market makers or Agency Only Firms on behalf of investors.

Claim Information Affidavit
If we are unable to locate the property referred to in your correspondence, we will require you and the reporting organization to complete and return this form. This will tell us how and when the funds you are requesting were reported to our office.

Claim Reference Number
A Claim Reference Number is a series of numbers assigned by our office to a claim. After your initial correspondence is received, your claim is established and an acknowledgment letter is generated and mailed to you. You can locate the Claim Reference Number in the upper right hand side of this letter or any other correspondence mailed to you from this office. A Claim Reference Number does not represent an OUF Code and is not used as a Confirmation Number.

Claimant
An entity or individual making the claim for the unclaimed funds.

Closed Estate
After the inventory and valuation of an estate is complete, the executor provides the court with a dispensation, showing that all and liabilities taxes have been filed. If the court is satisfied that everything has been allocated according to the will or the intestate laws, they will close the estate.

Confirmation Number
A Confirmation Number is assigned solely to claims successfully completed using the OUF Online Claiming Program. Confirmation numbers do not replace Claim Reference Numbers and are not used as OUF codes.

Conservator
A court appointed individual who legally holds and manages the value of another person’s assets.

Creditor
A creditor is a person, organization or company that has a claim to the services of a second party. It is a person or institution to whom money is owed.

Custodial Account
Any account where a parent or natural guardian is listed along with an account owner under the age of 18.

Custodian
A person (usually a parent or natural guardian) who acts on behalf of a minor under the age of 18.

Date of Last Activity
The date of the owner’s last activity on the property or the owner’s contact with the holder.

Death certificate
Sometimes knows as a medical certificate of the cause of death (MCCD), is a document issued by a government official such as a registrar of vital statistics that declares the date, location and cause of a person's death.

Dormancy Period
A dormancy period is a specified period of time in which the property owner does not take action on his or her property. The dormancy period, also known as the abandonment period or escheated period, begins on the date of last activity by the owner. The duration of dormancy periods varies depending upon the property type.

Due Diligence
This represents the degree of effort a holder of abandoned property would reasonably make in order to find the rightful owner of property before the property is remitted to the state.

Escheat
The transferring or remitting of abandoned or unclaimed property to the appropriate state in accordance with its unclaimed property laws. The term commonly refers to the general process of reporting and remitting unclaimed property to states.

Escheatment
The process of turning over unclaimed or abandoned payroll checks, utility deposits, savings and/or checking accounts or stocks and shares whose owners cannot be traced, to a state authority (in the United States). Every company is required to file unclaimed property reports with state annually and to make a good-faith effort to find the owners of their dormant accounts. The escheating criteria are driven by individual state regulations.

Estate
An estate is the net worth of a person at any point in time. It is the sum of a person's assets - legal rights, interests and entitlements to property of any kind - less all liabilities at that time.

Executor
A legal term referring to a person named by a maker of a will, or nominated by the testator, to carry out the directions of a will. Typically, the executor is the person responsible for offering the will for probate, although it is not absolutely required that he or she do so. The executor's duties also include the disbursement of property to the beneficiaries as designated in the will, obtaining information about any other potential heirs, collecting and arranging for payment of debts of the estate and approving or disapproving creditors' claims. An executor also makes sure estate taxes are calculated, necessary forms are filed and tax payments made, and in all ways assists the attorney for the estate.

Guardianship
Guardianship over an infant’s (child under 18 years of age) “person,” and/or “property”: A guardian is usually a family member who is granted authority to care for and make certain decisions for a child (for the “person”). Whenever a child receives money (usually $10,000 or more), someone must be formally appointed by the Court to safeguard these funds until the child becomes 18. Usually, a parent (the child’s “natural guardian”) is the person appointed “legal guardian” over these funds. Guardianship over a mentally-retarded or a developmentally disabled individual’s person and/or property: An individual who is certified by at least two doctors (one of which must be a medical doctor; and one of which may be a licensed psychologist) as being unable to care for him/herself because of mental retardation or a developmental disability can have a guardian appointed by the Court to make decisions on his/her behalf.

Heir
A natural person or other legal entity who receives money or other benefits from a benefactor. The term can also be described as an inheritance.

Holder
The entity that controls abandoned property until it is transferred to the owner or the state on behalf of the owner.

Intangible Personal Property
Property, such as stock, that is not in physical form. Stock certificates, for example, represent ownership interest in the company.

Interest
By law, we only pay interest on interest bearing items, such as savings accounts, for a period of five years from the date we receive the property. The interest rate is set by the New York State Department of Tax & Finance, and is updated quarterly.

Intestate
A person who dies without a will is said to have died “intestate”. Because the deceased person left no direction on how to dispose of their assets, New York law provides for how those assets will be distributed among the surviving members of the decedent’s family. A certified copy of the death certificate needs to be filed with the administration petition and other supporting documents in the Surrogate’s Court located in the county in which the decedent was domiciled (had their primary residence). There will be a filing fee based on the size of the estate. It may be advisable to seek the assistance of counsel.

Joint Tenant
If more than one person owns the same property, they are referred to as co-owners, co-tenants or joint tenants.

Last Activity Date
The date of last owner-generated activity; for example, the last activity date can be date of check issuance or the date of the last documented contact with an account owner, such as a customer making a deposit to a bank account. This date is used to determine when the dormancy period begins to run.

Letters of Administration/Letters Testamentary
A personal representative is the generic term for an executor for the estate of a deceased person who left a will or the administrator of an intestate estate. In either case, a Surrogate Court of competent jurisdiction issues a finding of fact, including that a will has or has not been filed, and that an executor or administrator has been appointed. These are often referred to as "letters testamentary", "letters of administration" or "letters of representation", as the case may be. These documents, with the appropriate death certificate are often the only license a person needs to do the banking, stock trading, real estate transactions and other actions necessary to marshal and dispose of the decedent's estate in the name of the estate itself.

Municipal Bonds
A bond issued by a city or other local government, or their agencies. Potential issuers of municipal bonds include cities, counties, redevelopment agencies, special-purpose districts, school districts, public utility districts, publicly owned airports and seaports, and any other governmental entity (or group of governments) below the state level. Municipal bonds may be general obligations of the issuer or secured by specified revenues.

NAUPA
National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators is the trade association comprised of state unclaimed property officials. http://www.naupa.org/

Notary Public
A public officer constituted by law to serve the public in non-contentious matters usually concerned with estates, deeds, powers-of-attorney, and foreign and international business. For the purposes of authentication, most countries require commercial or personal documents which originate from or are signed in another country to be notarized before they can be used or officially recorded or before they can have any legal effect. To these documents a notary affixes a notarial certificate which attests to the execution of the document, usually by the person who appears before the notary, known as an appearer or constituent.

Official Check
A check or written instrument for which a bank, financial organization, or business association is directly liable, including but not limited to drafts, money orders, traveler’s checks, cashier’s checks, expense and payroll checks.

OUF Code
An OUF code is a unique system identifier assigned to a specific property held by the Office of Unclaimed Funds and is for our internal use only. Original account numbers or check numbers are never used as OUF codes. The OUF code is not used as a Claim Reference Number for claims submitted in writing or as a Confirmation Number for claims completed online.

Owner
A person having a legal or equitable claim to the abandoned property.

Power of Attorney
An authorization to act on someone else's behalf in a legal or business matter. The person authorizing the other to act is the principal, granter or donor (of the power), and the one authorized to act is the agent, the attorney-in-fact, or in many Common Law jurisdictions, simply the attorney. For some purposes, the law requires a power of attorney to be in writing. Many institutions, such as hospitals, banks and, in the United States, the Internal Revenue Service, require a power of attorney to be in writing before they will honor it.

Probate
The process by which a will is proved to the satisfaction of the Surrogate (Judge) to be the valid Last Will and Testament of the person who died (decedent).

Reporting Organization
New York State Abandoned Property Law requires organizations to annually review their records and transfer accounts that have reached certain dormancy thresholds to the State Comptroller, who serves as custodian of the funds until they can be returned to their rightful owners. Banks, insurance companies, corporations and the courts are among the many organizations required to report dormant accounts to the State Comptroller.

Securities (Stock Shares)
Shares represent a fraction of ownership in a business. A business may declare different types (classes) of shares, each having distinctive ownership rules, privileges, or share values.

Security Disposition Refund Form
An Office of Unclaimed Funds form that is completed by an owner of a security-related item (stock) to inform the OUF on the method of return of their stock.

Security Refund Request
Your claim may involve securities (stock). Use this form to inform us of your payment preference for the return of your securities by choosing one of the four options under PART A. Be sure to provide all of the requested information and then sign your form under PART B.

Small Estates Affidavit
If the account owner is deceased and there was no estate representative appointed by the courts, and you are a blood relative or creditor of the deceased, you may use the Small Estates Affidavit (1310) form.

Social Security Number
A nine-digit number issued to U.S. citizens, permanent residents, and temporary (working) residents under section 205(c)(2) of the Social Security Act, codified as 42 U.S.C. § 405(c)(2). The number is issued to an individual by the Social Security Administration, an independent agency of the United States government. It has since come to be used as an identifier for individuals within the United States.

Table of Heirs
A form used, usually in tandem with a Small Estates Affidavit, by surviving blood relatives of a decedent if there was no estate representative appointed by the courts.

Tangible Personal Property
Property that is physical, such as a diamond ring or a silver coin

Trustee
A legal term for a holder of property on behalf of a beneficiary. A trust can be set up either to benefit particular persons or for any charitabbankingle purposes (but not generally for non-charitable purposes): typical examples are a will trust for the testator's children and family, a pension trust (to confer benefits on employees and their families), and a charitable trust. In all cases, the trustee may be a person or company, whether or not they are a prospective beneficiary.

Underlying Shares
Shares of stock that have been issued by a business association, or a banking or financial organization. The original certificate for the shares is in the possession of the shareholders, who have failed to either cash the dividend checks or correspond with the issuing corporation.

Voluntary Administration/Administrator
A simple and inexpensive method of administering the estate of a deceased person whose personal assets in the decedent’s name alone do not exceed $30,000 (exclusive of certain types of property, the clerk of court can provide more information as to whether you qualify), for persons who died on or after January 1, 2009; or $20,000 for persons who died before then. Voluntary administration may not be used to administer real property.

Voluntary Compliance
A program that allows banks, businesses, government agencies, and other entities to turn over unclaimed assets to all participating states without the fear of penalties or interest. The Voluntary Compliance Program is an attempt to alleviate the reluctance of holders to report their abandoned funds.

W8-BEN
If you do not reside in the United States (U.S.), and you do not have a U.S. Social Security Number, you must complete this form in order to determine if a tax treaty exists between your country of residence and the U.S. Otherwise, this office must withhold thirty percent (30%) of the interest payable on interest eligible refunds. Those funds are then to be turned over to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

Warrants
Uncashed checks issued by state agencies or departments

Will
A will is a written declaration of what a person wants done with their property upon death. A person who dies leaving a will is said to die “testate.” The law requires certain formalities for a will to be valid. A valid will can transfer an interest in both personal property (e.g. bank accounts, furniture, stocks, clothing) and real estate. A will allows a person to name a trusted individual to serve as an executor of the estate and guardian over the children. It also can provide protection for family members; for example, trusts for adult incompetent children, or “sprinkling” trusts for minor grandchildren where a trustee has discretion to distribute income according to need.

Year Reported
The year the property was reported to Office of Unclaimed Funds.