Unclaimed Property

Sutherland offers a multidisciplinary team of regulatory, litigation, technology and tax attorneys to address client needs in the context of increasingly aggressive auditors, new business models and emerging technologies.

As State Treasurers and their contingent fee auditors aggressively interpret and enforce unclaimed property statutes, companies must proactively address their unclaimed property exposures. Every company risks an unclaimed property audit that could result in significant liabilities.

Sutherland advises a wide range of industries on unclaimed property compliance, planning, audit and litigation defense. These industries include Broker-Dealers; Digital Payments; Energy; Gift Card, Rebate and Rewards Programs; Life Insurance and Annuities; Property and Casualty Insurance; Restaurant and Hospitality; Retail; Securities and Mutual Funds; Technology; and Telecommunications.

States look to unclaimed property audits to refill their coffers, turning once-routine unclaimed property audits into a significant source of state revenue. By understanding the evolving issues, we prepare clients for what comes next. Our multidisciplinary team offers many options, including multi-entity unclaimed property planning and compliance reviews;  intensive remediation programs; advice on voluntary disclosure agreements; aggressive audit defense and effective representation at regulatory and court proceedings; settlement negotiations; and recommendations on unclaimed property legislative and policy options.

Why Sutherland

Sutherland advises on a wide range of products and industries regarding unclaimed property.

  • Broker-Dealers
  • Digital Payments
  • Energy
  • Gift Card, Rebate and Rewards Programs
  • Life Insurance and Annuities
  • Property and Casualty Insurance
  • Restaurant and Hospitality
  • Retail
  • Securities and Mutual Funds
  • Technology
  • Telecommunications

Nuts and Bolts

We advise on every facet of unclaimed property matters, including:

Audit Defense

  • Defending clients in dozens of multistate unclaimed property audits conducted by contingent fee auditors.
  • Negotiating confidentiality agreements with robust data security protections.
  • Overseeing consulting firms’ records review and the initial self-assessment process under privilege.
  • Conducting legal analyses of proper reporting under the priority rules of various property types.
  • Representing clients before contract auditors, state controllers/treasurers and attorneys general should disputes arise.

Litigation Counsel

  • Defending companies in unclaimed property litigation in state and federal courts.
  • Representing 17 insurers in West Virginia unclaimed property litigation brought by the State Treasurer.
  • Defending qui tam litigation in Delaware regarding unclaimed property and gift cards.

Planning Strategies

  • Advising on preventive strategies to avoid unclaimed property exposures.
  • Counseling on the legal status of all property types, from emerging financial and electronic products to securities distributions. 
  • Advising on use of the Social Security Administration Death Master File to identify unclaimed benefits and develop remediation strategies. 
  • Developing unclaimed property planning strategies for gift cards and other stored-value accounts, both for clients creating new programs or those looking to restructure and/or manage existing programs.

Voluntary Disclosure Agreements (VDAs) and Internal Compliance Reviews 

  • Advising on internal compliance reviews and negotiating VDAs with state administrators.
  • Directing the work of consultants in connection with records review.
  • Overseeing quantification/mitigation processes to ensure the quality of analysis.
  • Ensuring that legal privileges are preserved.

Merger and Acquisition Exposure Review

  • Overseeing the internal compliance reviews of corporations that experienced historical merger and acquisition activity, which may entail successor liability issues.
  • Analyzing the sufficiency of acquired or targeted entities’ unclaimed property compliance programs.

Complex Legal Opinions

  • Providing opinions on the application of unclaimed property and other state and federal statutes to a wide variety of property types.
  • Advising on the validity and defensibility of unclaimed property planning strategies.
  • Suggesting improvements to structuring and implementing approaches to strengthen clients’ filing positions.

Compliance Policy Design

  • Conducting legal reviews of client facts and policies to determine whether unique types of accounts and balances constitute property subject to state unclaimed property laws.
  • Advising whether federal or international law impacts state escheat laws pertaining to particular types of property.
  • Advising whether clients are exposed to unnecessary liabilities and can eliminate or mitigate such exposure.

Market Conduct Exams

  • Representing insurance companies in single-state and multistate market conduct exams focused on unclaimed insurance/annuity/retained asset account benefits.

Take Action

Sutherland’s multidisciplinary team is available to assist on all of your unclaimed property needs. Let us know how we can help.

Our Story

Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP is an international law firm helping the Fortune 100, industry leaders, sector innovators and business entrepreneurs solve their biggest challenges and reach their business goals. Dedicated to unfaltering excellence in client service, we are known for our business savvy and industry intelligence, providing creative and custom solutions for each of our clients. Industry and business experience makes the difference for our clients.

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Washington, DC
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