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Unclaimed Property Rules and Time Limits for Delaware

Filed under Basic Accounting. Fact checked on May 24, 2012.

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Learn the unclaimed property rules and their time limits for the state of Delaware.

In Delaware, all things relating to unclaimed property are handled by the Delaware State Escheator.

  • As a business owner, this will be the agency to contact if you possess unclaimed property (unpaid wages, for example). Remember that you are subject to both reporting requirements and the obligation to turn over abandoned property to the state.
  • It is also the point of contact if you believe that you may have knowingly, or unknowingly, abandoned property (for example, failing to get back a security deposit, didn't receive a tax refund).

Delaware businesses have a number of responsibilities concerning unclaimed property. Initially, written notice must be sent to the apparent owner of the unclaimed property, if known. If the property remains unclaimed, businesses have a number of filing and reporting requirements to fulfill. Most importantly, businesses are required to turn over any and all unclaimed property to the state. Stiff penalties apply to businesses who fail to comply with any of these requirements.

Individuals should know that Delaware property is generally presumed abandoned five years after the owner fails to claim it. However, this time limit varies depending on the type of property involved. Once abandoned property is turned over to the state by a business, an individual then has the burden of reclaiming it from the state (provided they haven't sold it).

Reporting Unclaimed Property in Delaware

In Delaware, persons holding unclaimed property presumed abandoned are required to file information reports with the Delaware State Escheator. For banking organizations, reports are due before August 1 for each year ending as of the preceding June 30. Insurance companies file before May 1 of each year ending as of the preceding December 31. Other holders report by March 1 for the year ending as of the preceding December 31.

Restaurant retailers are exempt from the requirement of reporting abandoned property in the nature of gift certificates or gift cards issued on or after January 1, 1994, and having a face value of $5.00 or less.

The report requires identification of the property and its former owner and dates when the property became payable and when the last transaction with the owner occurred.

Prior notice to owner. Banking organizations and insurance companies are required to publish a notice by September 1 each year listing the unclaimed property reported to the State Escheator and the alphabetized names of the apparent owners together with their last known address.

Delivery. Property reported as unclaimed is delivered to the State Escheator by November 10, in the case of banking organizations, and December 20, in the case of insurance companies. Other holders must deliver property within 90 days after the information report has been filed (due date March 1).

Recordkeeping. Delaware has no specific recordkeeping provisions for businesses turning over unclaimed property to the state.

Penalties. For failure to file any report on or before the due date (determined with regard to any extension of time for filing), there is a penalty of five percent of the amount abandoned property for the first month, with an additional five percent for each additional month or fraction thereof during which such failure continues (not to exceed 50 percent of the total). An exception exists if it is shown the failure is due to reasonable cause and not willful neglect.

For failure to pay or transfer the abandoned property to the state, there is a penalty of 0.5 percent of the amount abandoned property for the first month, with an additional 0.5 percent for each additional month or fraction thereof during which such failure continues (not to exceed 50 percent of the total). An exception exists if it is shown the failure is due to reasonable cause and not willful neglect. If fraud is proven on the part of the business holder, a penalty of 75 percent of the portion of the deficiency in payment which is attributable to fraud is imposed.

Interest at 0.5 percent per month on outstanding unpaid amounts, including any penalty, shall accrue from the date the amounts or property were due until paid (up to a maximum of 50 percent of the amount required to be paid).

Claiming Unclaimed Property in Delaware

In Delaware, property is generally presumed abandoned five years after the owner fails to claim it. However, this time limit varies depending on the type of property involved. Once abandoned property is turned over to the state by a business, an individual then has the burden of reclaiming it from the state (provided they haven't sold it).

Locating abandoned property held by the state. In Delaware, unclaimed property held by the state may be found by searching the state's website.

To find out if other states may be holding your unclaimed property, search the national database established by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA).

Filing a claim

Claims for recovery of abandoned property are made to the State Escheator. There is no statute of limitations.

If you found your name on the state's website, you should email the State Escheator, including the following information:

  • The name as listed on the state's online database;
  • If the owner is someone other than yourself, your relationship to the person;
  • Your current address; and
  • A phone number that they can contact you between the hours of 8:00 AM and 4:30 PM.

If the State Escheator rejects the claim or fails to act, the claimant may, within four months, apply for a hearing with the Tax Appeal Board. Within 30 days after notice of a decision upon such hearing, the State Escheator or any claimant may appeal such decision to the Court of Chancery, upon notice to all parties to the proceedings before the Tax Appeal Board, and upon such other notice as the Court of Chancery may order.

Delaware Unclaimed Property Resources

If you're looking for additional information on unclaimed property, we recommend contacting your state's governmental agency that oversees the administration of this area of the law. For help in answering a specific unclaimed property question in Delaware, contact the following:

The Delaware State Escheator has two claims processing units, one for residents and one for nonresidents of Delaware.

If you are a Delaware resident, write to:

Delaware State Escheator
P.O. Box 8931
Wilmington, DE 19899

If you are not a Delaware resident, please write to:

Delaware State Escheator
P.O. Box 962049
Boston, MA 02196-2049
Phone: (302) 577-8221
E-mail: deproperties@acs-inc.com
Website: http://revenue.delaware.gov/unclaimedproperty.shtml

Delaware Abandoned Property Time Limits

Property Type Presumed Abandoned After
Bank account five years
Checks or drafts five years
Demutualization proceeds no specific provision
Gift certificates, gift cards, and credit memos Gift certificates: the shorter of five years or one day less than the expiration period of the certificate.
Insurance policies Life or annuity policies: five years.
IRAs or retirement funds no specific provision
Money orders five years
Other intangible personal property not otherwise specified five years
Includes security deposits.
Proceeds from class action suits no specific provision
Property distributable by a business association in the course of dissolution no specific provision
Property held by courts or public agencies Property held by the Delaware Court of Chancery : five years.
Property held by the federal government: five years.
Property held by fiduciaries five years
Safe deposit boxes no specific provision
Shares in a financial institution five years
Stocks, dividends, and distributions five years
Traveler's checks 15 years
Deposits and advances owed utility company customer Deposits and refunds: five years.
Wages or salaries five years

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