California Holds $8 billion in Unclaimed Property

By Jennifer Felten

According to the California State Controller website, the State of California is currently in possession of more than $8 billion in Unclaimed Property belonging to approximately 32.5 million individuals and organizations.  California has an Unclaimed Property Law where it takes possession of unclaimed property.  This law requires unclaimed property “holders” (such as corporations, business associations, financial institutions, and insurance companies to name a few) to annually report and deliver property to the California Controller’s Office.  The “holders” need to have had no customer contact for three years before the property is handed over to the Controller’s Office.  There are many reasons unclaimed property exists, including people forgetting about old accounts, customers move but don’t provide a forwarding address or new contact information, and in some cases the owners die and the heirs do not know about the accounts.  Handing the property over to the State of California is known as escheatment.  The property being handed over is known as escheated property.

Escheatment is common in real estate transactions as escrow holders and title companies hold money for consumers, some of which is never claimed by the rightful owner.  Recently, one taxpayer attempted to claim an escheated property under the California Unclaimed Property Law.  They claimed to be the assignee of Financial Title Company that was a suspended corporation, which lacked the legal capacity to claim the property.  The taxpayer claimed they were not subject to a lack of capacity based on the company’s suspension because they obtained a judicial assignment of rights to the funds, not a voluntary assignment.  According to the state statute, however, “an assignee of a suspended corporation is subject to the same incapacities with respect to commencement of actions during the period in which the corporate powers and rights are suspended.”  In essence, per the statute, the taxpayer was not entitled to claim the escheated property being held in the name of the suspend company.  The State Controller’s Office denied the claim and no escheated property was handed over to the taxpayer.

If anyone is curious if they have any unclaimed property, check out the State Controller website for your state and see what rules and statutes they have in place.  Maybe a portion of the $8 billion California is holding belongs to you!  State Controller Unclaimed Property

Jennifer Felten

Jennifer Felten, Esq., Relaw Ms. Felten specializes in representing both individuals and legal entities, providing representation and guidance on a variety of real estate related matters.  Relaw APC 699 Hampshire Road, Suite 105 Westlake Village, CA  91361 US Phone: (805) 265-1031 or email her at: [email protected]


Upcoming Speaking Engagements

For June 2017, Jennifer has the following speaking engagements:

North San Diego Escrow Association – Tuesday, June 13, 2017

San Diego Escrow Association – Tuesday, June 20, 2017

For details about one or more of these events feel free to contact our office.

RELAW, APC will be sponsoring the BIA-LAV Wine Tour on June 12, 2017.  For tickets please visit:


For inquiries or questions about having Ms. Felten speak to your organization please email [email protected].

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