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Unclaimed Property Rules and Time Limits for West Virginia

Filed under Basic Accounting. Fact checked on May 25, 2012.

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

In West Virginia, all things relating to unclaimed property are handled by the Unclaimed Property Division of the Office of the State Treasurer.

  • 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).

West Virginia 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 West Virginia property is generally presumed abandoned after one to 15 years of inactivity by the owner of the property. 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.

Reporting Unclaimed Property in West Virginia

In West Virginia, information reports are required of persons holding property that has reverted to the state by reason of a presumption of abandonment. The report is made to the State Treasurer and is due before November 1 for each year and covers the twelve months preceding July 1 of that year. Insurance companies file by May 1 of each year ending as of December 31. 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. A holder must send a written notice by first class mail to the apparent owner not more than 120 days or less than 60 days before filing the report if the following circumstances apply:

  • the holder has an address not obviously inaccurate
  • the owner's claim is not barred by a statute of limitations, and
  • the value of the unclaimed property is $50 or more.

Delivery. The holder of property presumed abandoned must pay or deliver to the State Treasurer, upon the filing of the information report, the property described in the report as unclaimed, except for property held in a safe deposit box or other safekeeping depository. If the property is an automatically renewable deposit, and a penalty or forfeiture in the payment of interest would result, the time for compliance is extended until a penalty or forfeiture would no longer result. Property held in a safe deposit box or other safekeeping depository may not be delivered to the State Treasurer until 120 days after filing the information report. The State Treasurer may destroy or dispose of property without value.

Recordkeeping. A business must generally maintain related records 10 years after the unclaimed property is reported. However, the period is three years for traveler's checks, money orders, and similar financial instruments.

Penalties. a holder who fails to report, pay, or deliver property within the prescribed time will be assessed interest at the annual rate of 12 percent on the value of the property from the date the property should have been reported, paid, or delivered. A fine of $1,000, in addition to interest, may be imposed for each day a holder willfully fails to report, pay, or deliver property within the time prescribed, up to a maximum of $25,000, plus 25 percent of the value of any property that should have been reported.

Claiming Unclaimed Property in West Virginia

In West Virginia, property is generally presumed abandoned after one to 15 years of inactivity by the owner of the property. 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.

Locating abandoned property held by the state. The West Virginia State Treasurer is required to publish a notice not later than November 30 of the year following the year in which abandoned property has been paid or delivered to the State Treasurer. The notice must be published in a newspaper of general circulation and must attract the attention of the apparent owners of the unclaimed property.

Unclaimed property held by the state may also 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 Treasurer on forms designated by that officer and verified by the claimant. Within 90 days after a claim is filed, the State Treasurer must allow or deny the claim and notify the claimant in writing of his decision.

To start the recovery process, perform an unclaimed property search online. If the search reveals your name in the database, complete an Inquiry Form and mail it to the address indicated on the form.

If your name is not listed after doing an online search, all is not lost. You can fill out and mail a Request for Search form. The Treasurer's office will search their database for you at no cost and notify you within 90 days of their findings.

A person dissatisfied with a decision of the State Treasurer or whose claim has not been acted upon within 90 days after its filing may bring an action in the circuit court of Kanawha County.

West Virginia 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 West Virginia, contact the following:

West Virginia Office of the State Treasurer
Unclaimed Property Division
One Players Club Drive
Charleston, WV 25311
Phone: (800) 642-8687, (304) 558-2937
Fax: (304) 558-4835
Website: http://www.wvsto.com/dept/UP/Pages/default.aspx

West Virginia Abandoned Property Time Limits

Property Type Presumed Abandoned After
Bank account Non-interest bearing bank accounts: five years.
Interest bearing bank accounts: seven years.
Checks or drafts five years
Demutualization proceeds no specific provision
Gift certificates, gift cards, and credit memos Gift certificates: three years after December 31 of the year sold.
Money or credits owed a customer: three years.
Insurance policies Life or annuity policies: three years.
IRAs or retirement funds IRAs, defined benefit plans, and similar accounts or plans: three years.
Money orders seven years
Other intangible personal property not otherwise specified five years
Proceeds from class action suits one year
Property distributable by a business association in the course of dissolution one year
Property held by courts or public agencies Warrants issued by West Virginia: six months.
Other property: one year.
Property held by fiduciaries Payment of a note, bond, debenture or other evidence of indebtedness: five years.
Safe deposit boxes five years
Shares in a financial institution no specific provision
Stocks, dividends, and distributions five years
Traveler's checks 15 years
Deposits and advances owed utility company customer Deposits and refunds: two years.
Wages or salaries one year

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