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  • Acts
  • 2000
  • Chapter 198 AN ACT RELATIVE TO ABANDONED PROPERTY.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:


SECTION 1. < Chapter 200A of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking out section 1, as appearing in the 1998 Official Edition, and inserting in place thereof the following section:-

Section 1. As used in this chapter, the following words shall, unless the context otherwise requires, have the following meanings:-

"Abandoned property", property presumed abandoned pursuant to this chapter.

"Claim", demand for payment or surrender of property from the holder of same, whose duty it is to pay or surrender the property to the legitimate claimant.

"Date prescribed for payment or delivery", the earliest date upon which the owner of property could become entitled to the payment, possession or delivery thereof by demand or other affirmative act.

"Person", any individual, corporation, joint stock companies, estate, trust, partnership, association, government or political subdivision, public corporation or authority, any bank defined in section 1 of chapter 167, savings bank, savings and loan association, credit union, trust company, national banks, federal savings and loan association, co-operative banks, bank holding companies and bank subsidiaries, mutual funds and any issuer of traveler's checks, money orders, outstanding checks and unclaimed wages or similar monetary obligations or commitments, whether organized or operated under state or federal law; utility companies, insurance companies; two or more persons having a joint or common trust or any legal or commercial entity.

"Property", all intangible property, including: (i) money, money orders, checks, drafts, deposits, interest, dividends, income and bonds; (ii) credit balances, customer overpayments, gift certificates, security deposits, refunds, credit memos, unpaid wages, unused airline tickets, mineral proceeds and unidentified remittances; (iii) stocks and other intangible ownership interests in business associations; (iv) money deposited to redeem stocks, bonds, coupons and other securities, or to make distributions; (v) amounts due and payable under the terms of an annuity or insurance policy; (vi) amounts distributed from a trust or custodial fund established under a plan to provide any health, pension, vacation, severance, retirement, death, stock purchase, profit sharing, employees savings, supplemental unemployment insurance, or similar benefit; and all tangible property, which includes all other property not defined herein as intangible.

"Treasurer", the treasurer and receiver-general.

SECTION 2. Section 5 of said chapter 200A, as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding the following paragraph:-

Notwithstanding the provisions of the preceding paragraph, any outstanding credit balances to a vendor or commercial customer from a vendor resulting from a transaction occurring in the normal and ordinary course of business shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter. This exemption shall not apply to unallocated distributions from securities held by financial intermediaries including, but not limited to, brokers, mutual funds, custodians, trust companies and depositories and owing to unknown beneficiaries but held in the intermediary's nominee names.

SECTION 3. Section 12 of said chapter 200A, as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding the following four subsections:-

(f) Any examination undertaken by the treasurer, pursuant to this section, shall be conducted within a period of limitation; provided, however, that said period of limitation shall be defined as an abandonment period of three years pursuant to section 2, 3, 4, 5, 5A, 5B, 5C, 6, 6A or 6B, plus a six year statute of limitation period immediately following said abandonment period; provided, further, that unless otherwise provided, holders of abandoned property shall maintain records of the property for the period of limitation; and provided, further, that in the event a holder fails to comply with the provisions of subsection (d) of section 7, any examination undertaken by the treasurer shall not be temporally limited.

(g) If the treasurer finds that the holder of property has violated the provisions of section 7 pursuant to an audit finding, the holder may appeal said finding. The appeal shall be in writing on a form prescribed by the treasurer and received by the assistant state treasurer of the abandoned property division within 30 days of said finding. The assistant state treasurer of the abandoned property division may hold a hearing on such appeal at a time and place to be fixed by him, but not later than 30 days from the date the appeal was due, unless such time shall be extended by mutual agreement of both parties. The holder may appear in person or by agent or attorney at such hearing. To the extent the assistant state treasurer of the abandoned property division may consider practicable, the hearing shall be conducted as informally as possible and shall eliminate formal rules of evidence, practice and pleading. The assistant treasurer or his designee shall hear all pertinent evidence and determine the facts, and shall issue an appropriate decision or order reversing, affirming or modifying in whole or in part said finding. The decision or order shall be made in writing within 45 days after the hearing and a copy of the decision or order shall be sent by registered mail to the holder or his designee, and to all interested parties. Nothing herein shall be construed as preventing the assistant state treasurer of the abandoned property division from granting temporary relief if, in his discretion, such relief is justified, nor from informally adjusting or settling controversies with the consent of all parties.

(h) A holder aggrieved by the decision of the assistant treasurer of the abandoned property division may, within 30 days of the receipt of such decision, file a written petition for review, on a form prescribed by the treasurer, with the treasurer or his appointee. Said petition shall include a summary of the facts presented to the assistant state treasurer of the abandoned property division, a copy of the assistant treasurer's decision, the issue in dispute, and any other relevant information. Within 45 days of receipt of the petition, the state treasurer or his appointee, shall either affirm or amend the decision of the assistant state treasurer. The treasurer's decision shall be in writing and sent by first class mail to the holder and any interested parties stating the decision and outlining the reasons therefor.

(i) A holder aggrieved by the decision of the treasurer or his appointee may, after exhausting the processes described in paragraphs (g) and (h), file a claim in superior court pursuant to the requirements set forth in chapter 212.

SECTION 4. Notwithstanding section 12 of chapter 200A of the General Laws, the state treasurer shall establish an amnesty period for holders of abandoned property during which such holders shall not be subject to the penalties, fines or interest pursuant to said section 12; provided, however, that said period shall commence six months from the effective date of this act and end 181 days after said commencement; provided, further, that the amnesty period shall be extended to any holder, provided that: (1) each such holder is not, at the beginning of said period of amnesty, the subject of investigation or audit by the treasurer, or a party to litigation affecting said abandoned property, (2) the abandoned property of said holder was required to be reported on or before November 1, 2000 or in the case of life insurance companies before May 1, 2000, (3) the abandoned property of the holder is transferred directly to the treasurer or his authorized agent during said amnesty period, (4) appropriate reports pertaining to the property are filed with the treasurer in a manner satisfactory to the treasurer during the amnesty period, and (5) records pertaining to said abandoned property are maintained by the holder in compliance with said chapter 200A; and provided, further, that the treasurer shall conduct an outreach and publicity program to notify business entities and other holders of abandoned property of their obligations under the General Laws, and the amnesty program.

SECTION 5. On or before December 31, 2001 the state treasurer shall prepare a report of the activities, procedures, performance, operation and implementation of the abandoned property system established by this act; provided that, the treasurer in preparing the report shall consult with the Massachusetts Bankers Association, the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Hospital Association and ACS Unclaimed Property Clearinghouse, Inc. The report shall be filed with the committees on ways and means and the judiciary of the house of representatives and of the senate.

Approved August 8, 2000.