West Virginia Unclaimed Property Law Enacted

Freda Pepper
April 4, 2022

West Virginia’s governor signed WV HB 4511 into law on March 28, 2022. The newly enacted law includes significant changes to West Virginia’s unclaimed property. The provisions of this bill will become effective June 10, 2022, which is 90 days after its passage by the legislature.

The changes are as follows:

  • Electronic Mail: The definition of “electronic mail” has been added and is defined as “a communication by electronic means which is automatically retained and stored and may be readily accessed and retrieved.”
  • Virtual Currency: Virtual currency is added to the definition of “property” and is defined as a “digital representation of value, including cryptocurrency, used as a medium of exchange, unit or account, or store of value, which does not have legal tender status recognized by the United States.”
    • Under the new law, virtual currency held or owing by any banking organization, corporation, custodian, exchange, or other entity engaged in virtual currency business activity is presumed abandoned three years from the date of the owner’s last indication of interest.
    • A holder is required to liquidate virtual currency 30 days after filing the report and remitting the process. However, there is no owner recourse for losses suffered as a result of liquidation.
  • Demand, Savings or Timed Deposits: The provision for demand, savings and time deposits is replaced, eliminating the distinction between interest-bearing and non-interest-bearing accounts. Under the new provision, a demand, savings or time deposit, including a deposit that is automatically renewable, is presumed abandoned five years after the maturity of the deposit. However, a deposit that is automatically renewable is deemed matured on its initial date of maturity unless the apparent owner consented in a record on file with the holder to renew at or about the time of the renewal. The current five-year dormancy period is retained.
  • Dormancy Period Reductions: The following dormancy periods are reduced:
    • All property subject to the catchall provision from five years to three years
    • Utility deposits and refunds from two years to one year
    • Debt of a business association other than a bearer bond or an original issue discount bond, including those funds held by a fiduciary, from five years to three years
  • Safe Deposit Boxes: Limits reimbursement for unpaid rent and storage costs for the contents of a safe deposit box to $150 and provides that the holder shall not receive such reimbursement until after the property is claimed by the owner.
  • Nursing Home Accounts: Provides that funds in a resident’s nursing home account are presumed abandoned 150 days after the resident’s death unless an estate has been opened or payment is made to a spouse or distributee.

Confused or overwhelmed? Need answers?

These changes and decreasing dormancy periods further demonstrate that reporting unclaimed property in West Virginia can be a stressful process that consumes valuable internal resources. However, when properly managed, the annual reporting and escheatment process does not need to be a burdensome experience.

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Contact Sovos for assistance in guiding your organization on the path to unclaimed property compliance. Reach out today.

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Author

Freda Pepper

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