Unclaimed Property Policies & Procedures: Where To Start?

September 9, 2013 – Blog post by Moyer & Osibodu

Unclaimed property policies and procedures are one of the first documents requested by unclaimed property auditors.  However, the written procedures are often out-of-date or may be non-existent.  It’s one of those documents that everyone knows they need but often it is ‘pushed to the back burner’ when other more pressing priorities demand the company’s resources.  

Often we are asked, “where do we start?”  “What should be included in the procedures?”  “If we use a vendor software package, what additional procedures do we need?”  This blog will provide an outline of elements that should be included in the manual.  This outline is a starting point for the process and Holders will want to add elements unique to their respective businesses.  

What should be included in the unclaimed property policies and procedures?   

1. Overview of Holder’s Corporate Governance Framework

  • Statement of Corporate policy regarding unclaimed property
  • Documents support of policy by all stakeholders  
  • Documents “How we do it here”

2. Overview of Unclaimed Property

  • Highlights the requirements of states’ unclaimed property laws and regulations
  • Provides an explanation as to “What is Unclaimed Property”

3. Responsibility for Unclaimed Property Compliance

  • Who is ultimately responsible for unclaimed property compliance
  • Who is responsible for unclaimed property compliance and what are their duties within each entity, subsidiary or business unit

4. Identify Potential Unclaimed Property

  • Identifies all property types and the “feeds” that will provide the records from the accounting systems to be included in the unclaimed property filings
  • Documents the “internal due diligence” requirements to be performed before declaring an item unclaimed

5. Determine Timeframe for Activities

  • Creates a timeline and communicate to stakeholders
  • Documents what property types are being handled by a Third Party (i.e., payroll, gift cards, rebates, equity)

6. Due Diligence Process

  • Documents the process for removing the amounts from the unclaimed property process (include retaining the signed, returned letters)
  • Identifies any “special” due diligence criteria

7. Prepare Unclaimed Property Reports

  • Identifies the process for assembling the report package and delivery of the reports (Certified mail, Fed Ex, US Mail)
  • Documents how payments to the states are being prepared (EFT, checks)

8. Establish Record Retention for Unclaimed Property

  • Determines the retention period for reports and supporting documentation
  • Documents where copies of the reports will be maintained (CD, pdf, hardcopy)

9. Recover Holder’s Unclaimed Property from States

  • Documents the process for recovering funds from states
  • Documents how and when asset recovery firms will be used

Written unclaimed property policies and procedures should document the company’s policy on unclaimed property, establish who is responsible for the compliance process, identify what types of transactions are considered unclaimed property, establish a timeline for performing compliance-related tasks, standardize the compliance process across business units, and enhance internal controls.  

We hope you have found this blog helpful and we encourage you to begin writing your unclaimed property policies and procedures today.  In the words of Benjamin Franklin, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.

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