The Basics:

An  obligation held, issued or owed in the course of business (known as the “Holder”) that is due and owing to individuals or other companies (known as “Owners”). The property becomes abandoned or unclaimed property once there has been inactivity or no contact between the Holder and the Owner. This period of inactivity is known as the dormancy period. Once dormant, the property should be remitted to the appropriate state.

The Dormancy Period is the length of time a Holder has an item of property without any owner contact before it needs to be reported to the appropriate state.

The duration of the dormancy period varies depending on the type of property in question, but the vast majority of property types in Delaware have a five year dormancy period.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have enacted laws that require Holders to report and remit abandoned or unclaimed property to the state. Delaware’s Abandoned or Unclaimed Property Law is codified in Chapter 11 of Title 12 of the Delaware Code (the “Abandoned or Unclaimed Property Law”). Each state’s laws are different.

Abandoned or unclaimed property subject to being reported and remitted to Delaware pursuant to the Abandoned or Unclaimed Property Law includes tangible property described in 12 Del. C. § 1134 or a fixed and certain interest in intangible property held, issued, or owed in the course of a Holder’s business or by a government, governmental subdivision, agency, or instrumentality. The term includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. Money, interest, dividend, a check, draft, or deposit.
  2. A credit balance, customer’s overpayment, gift card, stored-value card, security deposit, refund, credit memorandum, unpaid wage, unused ticket for which the issuer has an obligation to provide a refund, pari-mutuel ticket, mineral proceeds, or unidentified remittance.
  3. A security, bond, debenture, note, or other evidence of indebtedness.
  4. Money deposited to redeem a security, make a distribution, or pay a dividend.
  5. An amount due and payable under the terms of an annuity contract or insurance policy.
  6. An amount distributable from a trust or custodial fund established under a plan to provide health, welfare, pension, vacation, severance, retirement, death, stock purchase, profit-sharing, employee-savings, supplemental-unemployment insurance, or similar benefits.

Note: This list represents the most common examples of general ledger related to abandoned or unclaimed property and does not address securities, equity or insurance related property types.

After the dormancy period has been satisfied, the Holder is obligated to report and remit the abandoned or unclaimed property to the state of last known address of the apparent Owner. If the address is foreign or unknown, the property is remitted to the state of incorporation of the Holder, see Texas v. New Jersey, 379 U.S. 674 (1965).

The State of Delaware (“State”) takes custody of the property and is required to publish a list of property being held by the State in an attempt to reunite the property with its rightful Owner.

Pursuant to 12 Del. C. §1153(c), if abandoned or unclaimed property is remitted to the State in good faith, the State will defend the Holder against any claims to such property and indemnify the Holder against any liability on the claim—this applies with respect to claims by Owners or by other states.