Escheatment of Unclaimed Money

SUBJECT: ESCHEATMENT OF UNCLAIMED MONEY NUMBER:
R.1.
DEPARTMENTS & DISTRICTS AFFECTED: ALL AGENCIES, DEPARTMENTS, AND DISTRICTS GOVERNED BY THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS
EFFECTIVE: 1/1/89 Revised : 1/99
 signed
_________________________________ David E. Sundstrom, Auditor-Controller
1. POLICY
Each head of a County agency, department, and/or district is responsible for money deposited in his/her trust fund(s) or otherwise in his/her custody. Accordingly, he/she must file by the following March 1 with the Treasurer-Tax Collector a report as of December 31 of each year of all such monies which have been held unclaimed for three or more years.
1.1 Purpose
To establish a policy and related procedures for reporting monies held by departments/ agencies/ districts which have been unclaimed for three or more years, for identifying which of such monies can be escheated to the County, and for transferring such escheated monies to the County General Fund.
1.2 Authority
State of California Government Code Sections 50050 through 50056.
1.3 Definitions
1.3.1 Escheatment
The term "escheatment" generally means the legal transfer to a government entity of property that has not been claimed by the legal owners. As used in Policy and Procedure Number 18, "escheatment" is the legal transfer to the County of unclaimed money as defined in Paragraph 1.3.2.
1.3.2 Unclaimed Money
Unclaimed money consists of funds which are not the property of the County but remain in the County treasury or in the custody of a County officer for three or more years without a claim being filed by the legal owner(s), except in the following situations:
  1. The apparent legal owners of the money and their address, phone number, or other evidence of their whereabouts are known.
  2. The money is held in deposit pending decision in a court case.
  3. The money is covered by a special legal restriction of law, or is subject to a claim by another governmental agency. The money is to be retained beyond three years because of the provisions of Probate Code Section 7663. See Section 2.2 of this procedure.
  4. The amount of an individual item is under $15 or the depositor's name is unknown. Such items can be transferred after one year, without publication. See Section 2.3.3 of this procedure.
1.3.3 Trust Fund
A trust fund is a fund used to hold assets for individuals, private organizations, or other governmental units.
1.3.4 Liability/Deposit Accounts; Trust Fund Accounts
Liability/deposit accounts are general ledger accounts 9100 through 9160. 9100 Condemnation Deposits - Trust Funds 9110 Customer Deposits 9120 Development Deposits 9130 Refundable Deposits 9140 Uncleared Specific Donations 9150 Liability for Earned Credits 9160 Liability for Relinquished Credits Trust fund account balances are recorded in account 9200. 9200 Balance - Trust Funds
1.3.5 Officer
"Officer of the County," as defined in Government Code Section 29320, includes any elective or appointive officer of a county, superior court, or judicial district, and any person in charge of any office, department, service, or institution of the county, or a division or branch thereof and as enumerated in Section 24000 of the Government Code.
2. PROCEDURE
2.1 Request by Agencies/Departments/Districts:
By the end of each January, the Treasurer-Tax Collector shall distribute the Schedule of Accounts form and instructions to all affected departments/agencies/districts. Agencies/departments/districts shall complete a copy of the Schedule of Accounts form as required. (See sample form at end of these procedures.) The completed form shall be submitted to the Treasurer-Tax Collector by March 1.
2.2 Notification of Known Apparent Owners of Unclaimed Money
Agencies/departments/districts must make a reasonable effort to locate and notify owners of unclaimed money included on the Schedule of Accounts form. Before preparing this form the agency/department/district must notify apparent owners of unclaimed money held three or more years. If addresses of apparent owners are known, notification must be in writing, sent by certified mail, with return receipt requested. Any phone calls made to apparent owners must be documented to provide a record that adequate notification was made. The period to claim money for deposits recorded pursuant to Probate Code Section 7663 can be extended beyond three years. Section 7663 deposits are recorded by the Public Administrator for estates without beneficiaries. The County can release such deposits to a blood relative of the deceased or a blood relative of the deceased's predeceased spouse. For infants or persons of unsound mind, the period to claim money is extended until one year from the date on which his or her disability ceases. If the apparent owners state that they are unwilling or unable to claim the money, the money can then be listed as escheated on the Schedule of Accounts form. If the apparent owners wish to submit a claim for the money, normal department/agency payment procedures for the particular type of claim involved should be followed. If the money is not disbursed before December 31, it should be listed in the "Other Money Three or More Years Old" section of the Schedule of Accounts.
2.3 Preparation of Schedule of Accounts Form
2.3.1 General Instructions
Complete the original Schedule of Accounts form and make one copy. Submit the form by March 1 as follows: Original to Treasurer-Tax Collector One copy to department/agency file Submit a separate form for each trust fund and/or each individual liability/deposit account. Complete each section of the form as described in the following paragraphs.
2.3.2 Unclaimed Money Three (3) or More Years Old - Escheat
In this section of the form, list unclaimed money held for three or more years for which the apparent owners have been properly notified and are unwilling or unable to claim the money. Do not list in this section money held on deposit pending decision in a court case, money covered by a special legal restriction or law, or money subject to a claim by another governmental agency. Some unclaimed money may represent restitution collected on behalf of victims by the Probation Department. A mark should be placed in the "Victim Restitution" column to denote such funds.
2.3.3 Unclaimed Money - Less than $15 or Name of Depositor Unknown, and One (1) or More Years Old - Escheat
In this section of the form, list unclaimed money held for one or more years for which the individual items are less than fifteen ($15) dollars or for which the depositor's name is unknown. Do not list in this section money held on deposit pending decision in a court case, money covered by a special legal restriction or law, or money subject to a claim by another governmental agency. Some unclaimed money may represent restitution collected on behalf of victims by the Probation Department. A mark should be placed in the "Victim Restitution" column to denote such funds.
2.3.4 Other Money Three (3) or More Years Old - Do Not Escheat
In this section of the form, list all other money held for three or more years, claimed or unclaimed, which is not listed in the escheated money section. Do not list in this section money held on deposit pending decision in a court case, money covered by a special legal restriction or law, or money subject to a claim by another governmental agency.
2.3.5 Total of All Other Money in Fund
In this section of the form, post the total of all other money in the trust fund or the liability/deposit account.
2.3.6 Grand Total
The "Grand Total" must equal the total trust fund balance as of December 31, or the total of the liability/deposit account as of December 31.
2.3.7 Signatures
The preparer of the form signs on the "Prepared By" line. The department/agency/district head signs on the "Trust Officer" line. By his or her signature, the department/ agency/ district head authorizes the Auditor-Controller, after action has been taken by the Treasurer-Tax Collector and the Board of Supervisors as described in Paragraphs 2.4 and 2.5, to transfer escheated money to the General Fund. The department/agency/district head also certifies that proper notice has been given to all known and apparent legal and beneficial owners of unclaimed money to be escheated whose whereabouts are known.
2.4 Escheated Money: Less Than $15 or Name of Depositor Unknown
Upon receipt of the Schedule of Accounts forms from the departments/ agencies/districts, the Treasurer-Tax Collector shall compile a list of escheated money for amounts of less than $15 or any amounts where the depositors' names are unknown from the Schedule of Accounts forms. The Treasurer-Tax Collector then shall request the Board of Supervisors to issue a resolution escheating such money and directing the Auditor-Controller to transfer it to the County General Fund. Upon receipt of a certified copy of the Board Resolution, The Auditor-Controller shall transfer the escheated money to the General Fund.
2.5 Escheated Money: $15 or More
2.5.1 Public Notice
Upon receipt of the Schedule of Accounts forms from the departments/agencies/districts, the Treasurer-Tax Collector shall issue a notice listing all escheated money amounts of $15 or more, to be published once a week for two successive weeks in a local newspaper with a countywide circulation and distribution. The notice shall state the amount of money, the name of the depositor, the fund in which it is held, and that the money will become property of the County of Orange on a designated date not less than forty-five days nor more than sixty days after the first publication of the notice.
2.5.2 Removal of Item from List
2.5.2.1 Procedure for Party of Interest to File Claim for Unclaimed Money.
Upon or prior to publication, a party of interest may file a claim with the Treasurer-Tax Collector which must include the claimant's name, address, amount of claim, the grounds on which the claim is founded, and any other information that may be required by the Treasurer-Tax Collector. The claim shall be filed before the date the unclaimed money becomes the property of the local agency as provided under Section 50051. Pursuant to Section 50056, the Treasurer-Tax Collector may delegate the responsibility for accepting or rejecting the claim and releasing the money to the department/agency/district that submitted the Schedule of Accounts form to which the claim applies. The department/agency/district shall accept or reject that claim. If rejected, the department/agency/district shall notify the Treasurer-Tax Collector that the claim will not be honored. If accepted and notwithstanding the provisions of Section 50052, the department/agency/district may release, to the depositor of the unclaimed money or their heir, beneficiary, or duly appointed representative, unclaimed money if claimed prior to the date the money becomes the property of the local agency upon submitting proof satisfactory to the department/agency/district. The department/ agency/district consequently can direct the Auditor-Controller to issue a check for the amount of the accepted claim by way of a properly signed authorized claim. The department/ agency/district shall notify the Treasurer-Tax Collector that the amount of the claim should be removed from the monies to be escheated.
2.5.2.2 Court Action Upon Rejection of Claim by Treasurer-Tax Collector
If the claim is rejected by the Treasurer-Tax Collector, the party who submitted the claim may file a verified complaint seeking to recover all, or a designated part, of the money in a court of competent jurisdiction within the county in which the notice is published, and serves a copy of the complaint and the summons issued thereon upon the Treasurer-Tax Collector. The copy of the complaint and summons shall be served within 30 days of receiving notice that the claim was rejected. The Treasurer-Tax Collector shall withhold the release of the portion of unclaimed money for which a court action has been filed as provided in this section until a decision is rendered by the court.
2.5.2.3 County Officer Request to Remove Item from List
If an officer or head of a department/agency/district uncovers a restriction applicable to an item or the published notice of escheated money, he or she must send a written request to the Treasurer-Tax Collector to remove it from the list of money to be escheated.
2.5.3 Board of Supervisors' Actions
After the date designated in the public notice has passed, the County Treasurer-Tax Collector shall request the Board of Supervisors to issue a Resolution escheating the money as listed and directing the Auditor-Controller to transfer it to the appropriate fund. In the case of money collected on behalf of victims and so identified by the Probation Department according to Section 2.3.2 or 2.3.3, above, the Auditor-Controller shall be directed to transfer the money to the Victim Restitution Fund. All other money shall be transferred to the County General Fund.
2.5.4 Transfer to General Fund or Victim Restitution Fund
Upon receipt of a certified copy of the Board Resolution, the Auditor-Controller shall transfer the escheated money to the County General Fund or to the Victim Restitution Fund. Copies of the journal voucher transferring the escheated money to the General Fund or to the Victim Restitution Fund shall be sent to all affected departments/ agencies/districts by the Auditor-Controller.
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