A recent California superior court decision held that merchandise credits not redeemable for cash are not subject to California Unclaimed Property Law. The court also held that these credits qualified for exemption under the California unclaimed property exclusion for gift certificates that do not expire. Property that goes unclaimed for the statutory period of generally three years reverts to the State of California and is delivered to the State Controller’s Office of Unclaimed Property. If unclaimed, it is ultimately added to the California budget. Unclaimed property is an asset of a Decedent’s estate. When administering an Estate or Trust, checking for “Unclaimed Property” and filing a claim with the State Controller is one of the duties of the Trustee or Estate Representative.
To check for unclaimed property, go to California State Controller’s Office – Unclaimed Property.
The State Controller has 180 days of filing of the claim to determine if the claimant is, in fact, an “owner” of the unclaimed property, whereby an “owner” is defined to include the prior owner’s heirs, the Estate Representative, a Guardian, Conservator or Public Administrator.