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.

Abandoned Property Law

Visit the New York State Legislature website to access the Abandoned Property Law.

Account

A record of financial transactions for individuals, such as with banks, brokerages, utility companies, credit card companies, retail stores, etc.

Activity

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.

Audit

An examination and verification of a company’s financial and accounting records along with supporting documents.

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.

Blocked Accounts

The U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) granted the New York State Comptroller a license to take custody of assets subject to New York’s Abandoned Property Law from accounts that are blocked under OFAC Regulations. OFAC accounts, should be reported in a separate report of Abandoned Property with the sanction number in the property description (security description) field. Submit a copy of the lines in the organization’s most recently submitted OFAC Form TDF 90-22.50, prepared in accordance with OFAC reporting requirements published on June 21, 2019, that pertain to the blocked accounts being reported to OUF along with your report of abandoned property. This information is necessary for OUF to properly report to OFAC. This Office will notify reporters of abandoned properties if its license to receive blocked accounts ceases to be in effect.  

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.

Book-Entry Shares

A method of tracking ownership of securities where no physical certificate is given to an investor. Shares are managed electronically by the transfer agent. When an investor purchases a security, they receive a receipt and the information is stored electronically. 

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Calendar of Events

The calendar indicates, by article/section, the type of business, report period ending/cut-off date, due date of final reports and remittances, applicability and associated due dates of publication and mailing requirements. 

Claim

Notification to the NYS Office of Unclaimed Funds requesting payment for monies being held by the New York State Comptroller.  

Claimant Services

Is comprised of several areas within OUF that process claims, including security related property types, for payment. 

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. 

Compliance

Meeting the requirements of legislation and the rules and regulations of the New York State Abandoned Property Law.

Consolidated Laws of New York 

See Abandoned Property Law.

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. 

CUSIP number

A unique nine-character alphanumeric identifier assigned by The Committee on Uniform Securities Identification Procedures (CUSIP) to identify most securities, including U.S. government and municipal bonds.

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. 

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Date of Last Activity

The date when the owner initiates a financial transaction on the account or the date of the owner’s last written contact with the holder. This is also known as the "dormancy date."

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. 

Detail Record

Consists of owner name, address, Employer Identification Number, property type, property identification number, date dormancy began, multiple owners indicator, description of security, CUSIP number of security, number of shares or denomination, method of transfer, initial amount, escheated amount and removal indicator. 

Dormancy Period

A specified period of time in which the property owner does not take action on their property. The dormancy period, also known as the abandonment period, begins on the date of last activity by the owner. The duration of dormancy periods varies depending upon the property type.

Due Diligence

Required effort by the company to contact the rightful owner of an unclaimed fund before it is sent to the State. Abandoned Property Law §1422 requires a first-class mailing at least 90 days before the final report is due, and a second certified mailing at least 60 days before the report due date when the funds have value over $1,000. Exceptions include known bad addresses, new contact from the owner and known privacy issues. In addition, holders in some industries are required to publish in newspapers based on what property types are unclaimed.

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Electronic Reporting (NYCD)

New York State accepts reports using the following formats: National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA), Excel, Online Holder Reporting Application, or New York State Electronic Reporting Program (NYCD). Electronically formatted reports can be submitted using Secure File Upload, CD, DVD or USB.

Escheat/Escheatment

The process of turning over unclaimed or abandoned payroll checks, utility deposits, savings and/or checking accounts or stock shares and dividends whose owners cannot be traced, to a state authority. Every company is required to make a good-faith effort to find the owners of their dormant accounts and to file unclaimed property reports with states annually when unclaimed amounts are reportable. The escheat 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 they 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. 

Extension

Holders may request additional time when they are unable to comply with any statutory or regulatory requirement to submit a complete report in a timely manner. Any request for an extension should be received in our office at least 30 days prior to the event due date.

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Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)

A unique nine-digit number assigned by the Internal Revenue Service to businesses operating in the United States. 

Final Report

A final report is a complete, updated, detail listing of all accounts deemed abandoned as of the report period ending date. Accounts that have been reactivated or claimed through the due diligence process should be removed. 

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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 themself because of mental retardation or a developmental disability can have a guardian appointed by the Court to make decisions on their behalf. 

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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

Reporting organizations that hold the funds until they are reported to the state as unclaimed funds.

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Intangible Personal Property

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

Interest (Claims)

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 account. The interest rate is set by the New York State Department of Taxation and 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. 

Items

Each detail record or account is an item.

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Joint Tenant

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

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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. 

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Method of Transfer

Securities are escheated to New York State in the form of Depository Trust Company (DTC) transfer, book entry  (statement) or a physical certificate. Use the applicable code for the method used to deliver a security:

D       DTC, DWAC, DRS, NSCC, ACAT

P       Physical certificate (Certificate number should be in Property ID field)

T       Account registration (Restricted, No Value, Non Transferable)

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. 

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NAUPA

The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators is the trade association comprised of state unclaimed property officials working to find owners, protect unclaimed funds, and provide resources for reporting organizations. 

Negative Report

A statement attesting to the fact that you have reviewed your books and records and determined that there are no abandoned properties to report. A negative report is not required or accepted by New York State. Only submit a report if you have unclaimed funds to remit. 

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.

NYCD

New York State Electronic Reporting Program is our NYCD software that allows reporters to create their report and submit it using a Secure File Upload, CD, DVD or USB. NYCD is a legacy software and is no longer available for download. If you already have the program installed, you can continue to use it, but note that it's not compatible with some newer operating systems, such as Windows 10. 

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Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

A financial intelligence and enforcement agency of the U.S. Department of the Treasury that administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on U.S. foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United States.

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. 

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Penalties

Willfully filing false reports or making false verification is punishable under the provisions of the Abandoned Property Law, Section 1412. 

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. 

Preliminary Report

An initial report that is a complete listing of all accounts deemed abandoned as of your report period ending date. A preliminary report is not required or accepted by New York State.

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). 

Property Type Code

A code used by the states to identify the type of property being escheated. In New York, this is a two-character code from the Property Type Table. For the national NAUPA format, it is a four-character code.

Property Types Table

This table indicates by property type, the New York property type code, relevant article/section of the Abandoned Property Law, description of the property and associated dormancy period.

Publication

Some sections of the statute require advertising names of property owners in publications, in addition to the due diligence mailing requirements. 

Publication Waiver

A legal document releasing the publication requirement. 

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Reimbursement

The Comptroller's Office is empowered to return any remitted property to reporting organizations because of a mistake, error in calculation, or misinterpretation of the statute. Reimbursements can be made for a six year period after remittance to the state according to §1404 of the Abandoned Property Law.  

Remittance

With each final report of abandoned property the applicable remittance must be sent to the Comptroller of the State of New York.

Report Types

New York State requires a report to be filed if you have unclaimed funds to remit. There are three report types: Revised, Supplemental and Final. 

Reporting Organization

An organization that files abandoned property reports with New York State under the New York State Abandoned Property Law (APL). The APL 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.

Reports Processing

Is comprised of several units that receive, prepare, balance and release abandoned property reports. 

Retention Period

All organizations other than a broker or dealer need to retain records relating to abandoned property they are remitting to New York State for five years following December 31 of the year for which an Abandoned Property Report was filed. Broker/Dealers must retain their records for 10 years. 

Revised Report

An amendment or correction for the final abandoned property report submitted.

Rolling Up

If you have multiple items payable to a single owner (or a group of owners) in a given year and reportable under the same property type, you may combine the items. For example, 4 quarterly dividends can be reported as one item.

Rules of Jurisdiction

Rules of Jurisdiction as set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • Texas v. New Jersey (1965)
    • Primary Priority Rule – Property is remitted to the State of the owner’s last known address 
    • Secondary Priority Rule – If no address or owner unknown, property is remitted to the holder’s state of domicile 
  • Pennsylvania v. New York (1972)
    • Transaction Priority Rule – Traveler’s checks, money orders or similar written instruments, property escheats to the state where the purchase occurred 
    • If that information is not available, it is remitted to the state where the holder’s primary place of business is located 
  • Delaware v. New York (1993) 
    • Securities distributions held by intermediary banks, brokers and depositories for no address or unknown owners. The intermediary, considered the holder, is legally obligated to deliver securities to the owner. Thus, under the secondary priority rule, property is remitted to the intermediary’s state of domicile.

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Secure File Upload

A secure communication protocol governing the transfer of files from one computer to another over a network.

Securities (Debt)

A corporate or government obligation. Debt issues include bonds, notes, certificates, mortgages, leases, or other agreements between the issuer or borrower, and the lender. They may be general obligations of the issuer or secured by specified revenues. Instruction for reporting debt securities are in the Bank section of the Handbook for Reporters. 

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. 

Securities Management

Is comprised of several units that receive, reconcile and process for payment, security related items. 

Security Refund Request

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. 

Service Bureaus

Organizations that file on behalf of other reporting organizations. 

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. Future claims can be paid much more securely and smoothly if this number is provided in a report filed with OUF.

Supplemental Report

When a holder identifies additional property owner accounts that were not included on the original report, the accounts must be included on a supplementary report with a separate remittance.  

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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. 

Third Party Holder

When holders have contractual agreements with a third party, it is important to determine who has the responsibility of reporting abandoned property in the contract between the holder and the third party. For example, when using a payroll company, make a note of whether the holder or the payroll company will be filing abandoned property reports.

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 charitable 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. 

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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. 

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Verification and Checklist (VCL) 

Each report you submit must have its own Verification and Checklist (VCL). A VCL includes an organization’s name, Federal Employer Identification Number, contact name, signature, summary totals, property types and media type. You can submit a VCL by paper (form AC2709) or electronically (EVCL). Do not submit a paper VCL when an EVCL has been submitted with a report uploaded via Secure File Upload. 

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 Program 

A program that provides an opportunity for first-time reporters of abandoned property to report penalty free and, in some instances, holders who have filed in the past but recognize they have failed to report a particular type of property, to voluntarily correct the error without penalty. OUF agrees to waive penalties and interest associated with the reported items if the holder complies with the terms of the program. 

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W-8BEN

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. 

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Year End Cut Off

This is a reporting deadline and varies based upon the Article and Section of New York State Abandoned Property Law you are filing under. 

Year Reported

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

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