Wisconsin Disposition of Unclaimed Property Law


Wisconsin Law Summary
Uniform Disposition of Unclaimed Property Act

Note:  This summary is not intended to be an all inclusive discussion of abandoned property law, but does include basic provisions.  You should check the State Laws for updates.

WISCONSIN STATUTES
CHAPTER 177
UNIFORM UNCLAIMED PROPERTY ACT

Definitions. In this chapter:

(1) “Administrator” means the state treasurer.

(2) “Apparent owner” means the person whose name appears on the records of the holder as the person entitled to property held, issued or owing by the holder.

(3) “Attorney general” means the chief legal officer of a state.

(4) “Banking organization” means a bank, trust company, industrial bank, land bank, safe deposit company, private banker or any organization defined by other law as a bank or banking organization.

(5) “Business association” means a nonpublic corporation, joint stock company, investment company, business trust, partner-ship, limited Liability company or association for business pur-poses, whether or not for profit, including a banking organization, financial organization, insurance company or utility.

(6) “Domicile” means the state of incorporation of a corpora-tion, the state of organization of a limited liability company and the state of the principal place of business of an unincorporated person.

(7) “Financial organization” means a savings and loan association, savings bank, cooperative bank, building and loan association or credit union.

(8) “Holder” means a person, wherever organized or domi-ciled, who is any of the following:

(a) In possession of property belonging to another.

(b) A trustee.

(c) Indebted to another on an obligation.

(9) “Insurance company” means an association, corporation, fraternal or mutual benefit organization, whether or not for profit, which is engaged in providing insurance coverage, including, but not limited to, accident, burial, casualty, credit life, contract per-formance, dental, fidelity, fire, health, hospitalization, illness, life including endowments and annuities, malpractice, marine, mort-gage, surety and wage protection insurance.

(10) “Intangible property” includes:

(a) Moneys, checks, drafts, deposits, interest, dividends and income.

(b) Credit balances, customer overpayments, gift certificates, security deposits, refunds, credit memos, unpaid wages, unused airline tickets and unidentified remittances.

(c) Stocks and other intangible ownership interests in business associations.

(d) Moneys deposited to redeem stocks, bonds, coupons and other securities, or to make distributions.

(e) Amounts due and payable under the terms of insurance policies.

(f) Amounts distributable from a trust or custodial fund established under a plan to provide any health, welfare, pension, vacation, severance, retirement, death, stock purchase, profit sharing, employe savings, supplemental unemployment insurance or similar benefits.

(11) “Last–known address” means a description of the location of the apparent owner sufficient for the purpose of the delivery of mail.

(12) “Owner” means a depositor in the case of a deposit, a beneficiary in the case of a trust other than a deposit in trust, a cred-itor, claimant or payee in the case of other intangible property, or a person having a legal or equitable interest in property subject to this chapter or his or her legal representative.

(13) “Person” means an individual, business association, state or other government, governmental subdivision or agency, public corporation, public authority, estate, trust, 2 or more persons having a joint or common interest, or any other legal or commercial entity.

(14) “State” means any state, district, commonwealth, territory, insular possession and any other area subject to the legislative authority of the United States.

(15) “Utility” means a person who owns or operates for public use any plant, equipment, property, franchise or license for the transmission of communications or the production, storage, transmission, sale, delivery or furnishing of electricity, water, steam or gas.Chap. 177, §177.01

Property presumed abandoned; general rule.

(1) Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, all intangible property, including any income or increment derived from it, less any lawful charges, that is held, issued or owing in the ordinary course of a holder’s business and that has remained unclaimed by the owner for more than 5 years after it became payable or distributable is presumed abandoned.

(2) Property is payable or distributable for the purpose of this chapter notwithstanding the owner’s failure to make demand or to present any instrument or document required to receive payment.Chap. 177, §177.02

General rules for taking custody of intangible unclaimed property.
Unless otherwise provided in this chapter or by another section of the statutes, intangible property is subject to the custody of this state as unclaimed property if the conditions raising a presumption of abandonment under ss. 177.02 and 177.05 to 177.165 are satisfied, and one of the following conditions is present:

(1) The last–known address, as shown on the records of the holder, of the apparent owner is in this state.

(2) The records of the holder do not reflect the identity of the person entitled to the property and it is established that the last–known address of the person entitled to the property is in this state.

(3)

(a) The records of the holder do not reflect the last–known address of the apparent owner; and

(b) Either of the following is established:

1. The last–known address of the person entitled to the property is in this state.

2. The holder is a domiciliary or a government or governmental subdivision or agency of this state and has not previously paid or delivered the property to the state of the last–known address of the apparent owner or other person entitled to the property.

(4) The last–known address, as shown on the records of the holder, of the apparent owner is in a state that does not provide by law for the escheat or custodial taking of the property or its escheat or unclaimed property law is not applicable to the property and the holder is a domiciliary or a government or governmental subdivision or agency of this state.

(5) The last–known address, as shown on the records of the holder, of the apparent owner is in a foreign nation and the holder is a domiciliary or a government or governmental subdivision or agency of this state.

(6)

(a) The transaction out of which the property arose occurred in this state;

(b) Either of the following exists:

1. The last–known address of the apparent owner or other per-son entitled to the property is unknown.

2. The last–known address of the apparent owner or other person entitled to the property is in a state that does not provide by law for the escheat or custodial taking of the property or its escheat or unclaimed property law is not applicable to the property; and

(c) The holder is a domiciliary of a state that does not provide by law for the escheat or custodial taking of the property or its escheat or unclaimed property law is not applicable to the property.Chap. 177, §177.03

Travelers checks and money orders.

(1) Subject to sub.(4), any sum payable on a travelers check that has been outstanding for more than 15 years after its issuance is presumed abandoned unless the owner, within 15 years, has communicated in writing with the issuer concerning it or otherwise indicated an interest as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file prepared by an employe of the issuer.

(2) Subject to sub.(4), any sum payable on a money order or similar written instrument, other than a 3rd party bank check, that has been outstanding for more than 7 years after its issuance is presumed abandoned unless the owner, within 7 years, has communicated in writing with the issuer concerning it or otherwise indicated an interest as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file prepared by an employe of the issuer.

(3) A holder may not deduct from the amount of any travelers check, money order or similar written instrument any charge imposed by reason of the failure to present the instrument for payment unless there is a valid and enforceable written contract between the issuer and the owner of the property pursuant to which the issuer may impose a charge and the issuer regularly imposes those charges and does not regularly reverse or otherwise cancel them.

(4) No sum payable on a travelers check, money order or similar written instrument, other than a 3rd party bank check, described in subs. (1) and (2) may be subjected to the custody of this state as unclaimed property unless one of the following exists:

(a) The records of the issuer show that the travelers check, money order or similar written instrument was purchased in this state.

(b) The issuer has its principal place of business in this state and the records of the issuer do not show the state in which the travelers check, money order or similar written instrument was purchased.

(c) The issuer has its principal place of business in this state, the records of the issuer show the state in which the travelers check, money order or similar written instrument was purchased and the laws of the state of purchase do not provide for the escheat or custodial taking of the property or its escheat or unclaimed property law is not applicable to the property.

(5) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, sub. (4) applies to sums payable on travelers checks, money orders and similar written instruments presumed abandoned on or after February 1, 1965, except to the extent that those sums have been paid over to a state prior to January 1, 1974.Chap. 177, §177.04

Checks, drafts and similar instruments issued or certified by banking and financial organizations.

(1) Any sum payable on a check, draft or similar instrument, except those subject to s. 177.04, on which a banking or financial organization is directly liable, including a cashier’s check and a certified check, which has been outstanding for more than 5 years after it was payable or after its issuance if payable on demand, is presumed abandoned, unless the owner, within 5 years, has com-municated in writing with the banking or financial organization concerning it or has otherwise indicated an interest as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file prepared by an employe of the banking or financial organization.

(2) A holder may not deduct from the amount of any instrument subject to this section any charge imposed by reason of the failure to present the instrument for payment unless there is a valid and enforceable written contract between the holder and the owner of the instrument pursuant to which the holder may impose a charge, and the holder regularly imposes those charges and does not regularly reverse or otherwise cancel them.Chap. 177, §177.05

Bank deposits and funds in financial organizations.

(1) Any demand, savings or matured time deposit with a banking or financial organization, including deposits that are automatically renewable, and any funds paid toward the purchase of a share, a mutual investment certificate or any other interest in a banking or financial organization is presumed abandoned unless the owner has, within 5 years, done one of the following:

(a) In the case of a deposit, increased or decreased the amount of the deposit or presented the passbook or other similar evidence of the deposit for the crediting of interest.

(b) Communicated in writing with the banking or financial organization concerning the property.

(c) Otherwise indicated an interest in the property as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file prepared by an employe of the banking or financial organization.

(d) Owned other property to which par. (a), (b) or (c) applies, and if the banking or financial organization communicates in writing with the owner with regard to the property that would otherwise be presumed abandoned under this subsection at the address to which communications regarding the other property regularly are sent.

(e) Had another relationship with the banking or financial organization concerning which the owner has either:

1. Communicated in writing with the banking or financial organization.

2. Otherwise indicated an interest as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file prepared by an employe of the banking or financial organization and if the banking or financial organization communicates in writing with the owner with regard to the property that would otherwise be abandoned under this subsection at the address to which communications regarding the other relationship regularly are sent.

(1m)

(a) On and after December 31, 1984, any correspondence in writing from a banking or financial organization to the owner, such as the mailing of a statement, report of interest paid or credited or other written advice relating to a deposit, means that the owner has indicated an interest in the deposit under sub. (1), if the correspondence is not returned to the banking or financial organization for nondelivery and if the banking or financial organization maintains a record of all such returned Correspondence.

If correspondence is returned, the deposit is presumed abandoned unless the owner has, within 5 years after the return, undertaken at least one of the activities specified in sub. (1) (a) to (e).

(b) This subsection does not apply to a deposit existing on December 31, 1984, until 5 years after that date or until one of the activities specified in sub. (1) (a) to (e) has occurred, whichever is earlier.

(2) For purposes of sub. (1), property includes interest and dividends.

(3) With respect to property described in sub. (1), a holder shall not do any of the following:

(a) Impose a charge during a period of dormancy or inactivity which exceeds the charge regularly imposed by that holder on that class of account, or cease payment of interest during such a period solely because of dormancy or inactivity.

(b) Assess a service charge after December 31 of the 2nd calendar year covered in the report filed under s. 177.17 concerning that property.

(4) Any property described in sub. (1) that is automatically renewable is matured for purposes of sub. (1) upon the expiration of its initial time period, or after one year if the initial period is less than one year, except that in the case of any renewal to which the owner consents at or about the time of renewal by communicating in writing with the banking or financial organization or otherwise indicating consent as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file prepared by an employee of the organization, the property is matured upon the expiration of the last time period for which consent was given or one year from the date of the last consent, whichever is longer. If, at the time provided for delivery in s. 177.19, a penalty or forfeiture in the payment of interest would result from the delivery of the property, the time for delivery is extended until the time when no penalty or forfeiture would result.Chap. 177, §177.06

Funds owing under life insurance policies.

(1) Funds held or owing under any life or endowment insurance policy or annuity contract that has matured or terminated are presumed abandoned if unclaimed for more than 5 years after the funds became due and payable as established from the records of the insurance company holding or owing the funds, but property described in sub. (3) (b) is presumed abandoned if unclaimed for more than 2 years.

(2) If a person other than the insured or annuitant is entitled to the funds and no address of the person is known to the company or it is not definite and certain from the records of the company who is entitled to the funds, it is presumed that the last–known address of the person entitled to the funds is the same as the last–known address of the insured or annuitant according to the records of the company.

(3) For purposes of this chapter, a life or endowment insurance policy or annuity contract not matured by actual proof of the death of the insured or annuitant according to the records of the company is deemed matured and the proceeds due and payable under either of the following circumstances:

(a) The company knows that the insured or annuitant has died.

(b)

1. The insured has attained, or would have attained if he or she were living, the limiting age under the mortality table on which the reserve is based;

2. The policy was in force at the time the insured attained, or would have attained, the limiting age specified in subd. 1.; and

3. Neither the insured nor any other person appearing to have an interest in the policy within the preceding 2 years, according to the records of the company, has assigned, readjusted or paid pre-miums on the policy, subjected the policy to a loan, corresponded in writing with the company concerning the policy or otherwise indicated an interest as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file prepared by an employe of the company.

(4) For purposes of this chapter, the application of an automatic premium loan provision or other nonforfeiture provision contained in an insurance policy does not prevent a policy from being matured or terminated under sub. (1) if the insured has died or the insured or the beneficiary of the policy otherwise has become entitled to the proceeds thereof before the depletion of the cash surrender value of a policy by the application of those provisions.

(5) If the laws of this state or the terms of the life insurance policy require the company to give notice to the insured or owner that an automatic premium loan provision or other nonforfeiture provision has been exercised and the notice, given to an insured or owner whose last–known address according to the records of the company is in this state, is undeliverable, the company shall make a reasonable search to ascertain the policyholder’s correct address to which the notice must be mailed.

(6) If the company learns of the death of the insured or annuitant and the beneficiary has not communicated with the insurer within 4 months after the death, the company shall take reasonable steps to pay the proceeds to the beneficiary.

(7) Commencing December 31, 1986, every change of beneficiary form issued by an insurance company under any life or endowment insurance policy or annuity contract to an insured or owner who is a resident of this state shall request all of the following information with regard to direct beneficiaries:

(a) The name of each beneficiary, or if a class of beneficiaries is named, the name of each current beneficiary in the class.

(b) The address of each beneficiary.

(c) The relationship of each beneficiary to the insured.Chap. 177, §177.07

Deposits held by utilities.
A deposit, including any interest thereon, made by a subscriber with a utility to secure payment or any sum paid in advance for utility services to be fur-nished, less any lawful deductions, that remains unclaimed by the owner for more than one year after termination of the services for which the deposit or advance payment was made is presumed abandoned.

Chap. 177, §177.08

Refunds held by business associations.
Except to the extent otherwise ordered by the court or administrative agency, any sum that a business association has been ordered to refund by a court or administrative agency which has remained unclaimed by the owner for more than one year after it became payable in accordance with the final determination or order providing for the refund, regardless of whether the final determination or order requires any person entitled to a refund to make a claim for it, is presumed abandoned.

Chap. 177, §177.09

Stock and other intangible interest in business associations.

(1) Except as provided in subs. (2) and (5), any stock or other intangible ownership interest in a business associa-tion, the existence of which is evidenced by records available to the association, is presumed abandoned and, with respect to the interest, the association is the holder, if a dividend, distribution or other sum payable as a result of the interest has remained unclaimed by the owner for 7 years and the owner has not done either of the following within 7 years:

(a) Communicated in writing with the association regarding the interest or a dividend, distribution or other sum payable as a result of the interest.

(b) Otherwise communicated with the association regarding the interest or a dividend, distribution or other sum payable as a result of the interest, as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file with the association prepared by an employe of the association.

(2) At the expiration of a 7–year period following the failure of the owner to claim a dividend, distribution or other sum payable to the owner as a result of the interest, the interest is not presumed abandoned unless there have been at least 7 dividends, distribu-tions or other sums paid during the period, none of which has been claimed by the owner. If 7 dividends, distributions or other sums are paid during the 7–year period, the period leading to a presump-tion of abandonment commences on the date payment of the first such unclaimed dividend, distribution or other sum became due and payable. If 7 dividends, distributions or other sums are not paid during the presumptive period, the period continues to run until there have been 7 dividends, distributions or other sums that have not been claimed by the owner.

(3) The running of the 7–year period of abandonment ceases immediately upon the occurrence of a communication specified under sub. (1). If any future dividend, distribution or other sum payable to the owner as a result of the interest is subsequently not claimed by the owner, a new period of abandonment commences and relates back to the time a subsequent dividend, distribution or other sum became due and payable.

(4) At the time an interest is presumed abandoned under this section, any dividend, distribution or other sum then held for or owing to the owner as a result of the interest, and not previously presumed abandoned, is presumed abandoned.

(5) This chapter does not apply to any stock or other intangible ownership interest enrolled in a plan that provides for the automat-ic reinvestment of dividends, distributions or other sums payable as a result of the interest unless the records available to the admin-istrator of the plan show, with respect to any intangible ownership interest not enrolled in the reinvestment plan, that the owner has not within 7 years communicated in any manner specified under sub. (1).Chap. 177, §177.10

Property of business associations held in course of dissolution.
Intangible property distributable in the course of the dissolution of a business association which remains unclaimed by the owner for more than one year after the date specified for final distribution is presumed abandoned.

Chap. 177, §177.11

Property held by agents and fiduciaries.

(1) Intangible property and any income or increment derived from it held in a fiduciary capacity for the benefit of another per-son is presumed abandoned unless the owner, within 5 years after it has become payable or distributable, has increased or decreased the principal, accepted payment of principal or income, communi-cated concerning the property or otherwise indicated an interest as evidenced by a memorandum or other record on file prepared by the fiduciary.

(2) Funds in an individual retirement account or a retirement plan for self–employed individuals or similar account or plan established pursuant to the U.S. internal revenue code are not payable or distributable within the meaning of sub. (1) unless, under the terms of the account or plan, distribution of all or part of the funds would then be mandatory.

(3) For the purpose of this section, a person who holds property as an agent for a business association is deemed to hold the property in a fiduciary capacity for that business association alone, unless the agreement between the holder and the business association provides otherwise.

(4) For the purposes of this section, a person who is deemed to hold property in a fiduciary capacity for a business association alone is the holder of the property only insofar as the interest of the business association in the property is concerned, and the business association is the holder of the property insofar as the interest of any other person in the property is concerned.Chap. 177, §177.12

Property held by courts and public agencies.
Except as provided in ss. 40.08 (8), 800.095 (7m), 852.01 (3), 863.37 (2) and 863.39, intangible property held for the owner by a court, state or other government, governmental subdivision or agency, public corporation or public authority that remains unclaimed by the owner for more than one year after it became payable or distributable is presumed abandoned.

Chap. 177, §177.13

Gift certificates and credit memos.

(1) A gift certificate or a credit memo issued in the ordinary course of the issuer’s business that remains unclaimed by the owner for more than 5 years after becoming payable or distributable is presumed abandoned.

(2) In the case of a gift certificate, the amount presumed abandoned is the price paid by the purchaser of the gift certificate. In the case of a credit memo, the amount presumed abandoned is the amount credited to the recipient of the credit memo.Chap. 177, §177.14

Wages.
Unpaid wages, including wages represented by unpresented payroll checks, owing in the ordinary course of the holder’s business, which remain unclaimed by the owner for more than one year after becoming payable are presumed abandoned.

Chap. 177, §177.15

Contents of safe deposit box or other safekeeping repository.
All tangible and intangible property held in a safe deposit box or any other safekeeping repository in this state in the ordinary course of the holder’s business and proceeds resulting from the sale of the property permitted by other law, which remain unclaimed by the owner for more than 5 years after the lease or rental period on the box or other repository has expired, are presumed abandoned.

Chap. 177, §177.16

Proceeds from sale of property in selfservice storage facility.
Notwithstanding s. 177.02 (1), the proceeds of a sale under s. 704.90 (6) of personal property stored in a leased facility located within a self–service storage facility after satisfaction of the operator’s lien under s. 704.90 (3) (a) is presumed abandoned.

Chap. 177, §177.165

Report of abandoned property.

(1) A person holding tangible or intangible property presumed abandoned and subject to custody as unclaimed property under this chapter shall report to the administrator concerning the property as provided in this section.

(2) The report shall be verified and shall include all of the following:

(a) Except with respect to travelers checks and money orders, the name, if known, and last–known address, if any, of each person appearing from the records of the holder to be the owner of proper-ty with a value of $50 or more presumed abandoned under this chapter.

(b) In the case of unclaimed funds of $50 or more held or owing under any life or endowment insurance policy or annuity contract, the full name and last–known address of the insured or annuitant and of the beneficiary according to the records of the insurance company holding or owing the funds.

(c) In the case of the contents of a safe deposit box or other safekeeping repository or of other tangible property, a description of the property and the place where it is held and may be inspected by the administrator, and any amounts owing to the holder.

(d) The nature and identifying number, if any, or description of the property and the amount appearing from the records to be due, but items with a value of less than $50 each may be reported in the aggregate.

(e) The date the property became payable, demandable or returnable, and the date of the last transaction with the apparent owner with respect to the property.

(f) Other information the administrator prescribes by rule as necessary for the administration of this chapter.

(3) If the person holding property presumed abandoned and subject to custody as unclaimed property is a successor to other persons who previously held the property for the apparent owner or if the holder has changed his or her name while holding the property, the holder shall file with his or her report all known names and addresses of each previous holder of the property.

(4) Before May 1 of each even–numbered year, each holder shall file a report covering the 2 previous calendar years. On written request by any person required to file a report, the administrator may postpone the reporting date.

(5) Not more than 120 days before filing the report required by this section, the holder in possession of property presumed abandoned and subject to custody as unclaimed property under this chapter shall send written notice to the apparent owner at his or her last–known address informing him or her that the holder is in possession of property subject to this chapter if all of the following exist:

(a) The holder has in its records an address for the apparent owner which the holder’s records do not disclose to be inaccurate.

(b) The claim of the apparent owner is not barred by the statute of limitations.

(c) The property has a value of $50 or more.Chap. 177, §177.17

Notice and publication of lists of abandoned property.

(1) The administrator shall publish a notice entitled “Notice of names of persons appearing to be owners of abandoned property” not later than the September 20 following the report required under s. 177.17. Except as provided in sub. (1m), the notice shall include the name of each person identified in a report filed under s. 177.17 since the publication of the previous notice. The administrator shall publish the notice as a class 1 notice under ch. 985, in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which is located the last–known address of the person to be named in the notice. If no address is listed or the address is outside this state, the notice shall be published in the county in which the holder of the property has its principal place of business within this state.

(1m) If the address of a person to be named in a notice under sub. (1) is outside this state, and if the administrator has entered into an agreement under s. 177.33 (1) with the state in which the address is located, the administrator may omit the information specified in sub. (2) with respect to that person from the notice published under sub. (1).

(2) The published notice shall contain all of the following:

(a) The names in alphabetical order and last–known address, if any, of persons listed in the report and entitled to notice within the county as specified in sub. (1).

(b) A statement that information concerning the property and the name and last–known address of the holder may be obtained by any person possessing an interest in the property by addressing an inquiry to the administrator.

(c) A statement that if proof of claim is not presented by the owner to the holder and if the owner’s right to receive the property is not established to the holder’s satisfaction before November 1, the property will be placed in the custody of the administrator not later than December 1 and that all further claims must thereafter be directed to the administrator.

(d) For money or other property received under s. 852.01 (3), 863.37 (2) or 863.39 (1), the notice shall be published in the official state newspaper and shall include the name of the decedent, the time and place of the decedent’s death, the amount paid to the administrator, the name of the decedent’s personal representative, the county in which the estate is probated and a statement that the money will be paid to the heirs or legatees without interest, on proof of ownership, if claimed within 10 years from the date of publication as provided in s. 863.39 (3).

(3) The administrator is not required to publish notice of any item with a value of less than $50 unless the administrator deter-mines the publication to be in the public interest.

(4) This section does not apply to sums payable on travelers checks, money orders and other written instruments presumed abandoned under s. 177.04.Chap. 177, §177.18

Payment or delivery of abandoned property.

(1) Except as provided in sub. (2), a person required to file a report under s. 177.17 shall, by the December 1 following the filing of the report, pay or deliver to the administrator all abandoned property required to be reported.

(2) If the owner establishes the right to receive the abandoned property to the satisfaction of the holder before the property has been delivered or if it appears that for some other reason the presumption of abandonment is erroneous, the property will no longer be presumed abandoned. In this case, the holder need not pay or deliver the property to the administrator, but instead shall file with the administrator a verified written explanation of the proof of claim or of the error in the presumption of abandonment.

(3) The holder of an interest under s. 177.10 shall deliver to the administrator a duplicate certificate or other evidence of ownership if the holder does not issue certificates of ownership. Upon delivery of a duplicate certificate to the administrator, the holder and any transfer agent, registrar or other person acting for or on behalf of a holder in executing or delivering the duplicate certifi-cate are relieved of all liability, as provided under s. 177.20, to any person, including any person acquiring the original certificate or the duplicate of the certificate issued to the administrator, for any loss or damage caused by the issuance and delivery of the duplicate certificate to the administrator.Chap. 177, §177.19

Custody by state; holder relieved from liability; reimbursement of holder paying claim; reclaiming for owner; defense of holder; payment of safe deposit box or repository charges.

(1) Upon the payment or delivery of property to the administrator, this state assumes custody and responsibility for the safekeeping of the property. Any person who pays or delivers property to the administrator in good faith is relieved of all liability for any claim which exists or which may arise or be made with respect to the property.

(2) A holder who has paid money to the administrator under this chapter may make payment to any person who appears to the holder to be entitled to payment. Upon receiving proof of the payment and proof that the payee was entitled to payment, the administrator shall immediately reimburse the holder without imposing a fee or other charge. If reimbursement is sought for a payment made on a negotiable instrument, including a travelers check or money order, the holder shall be reimbursed upon filing proof that the instrument was duly presented and that payment was made to a person who appeared to the holder to be entitled to payment. The holder shall be reimbursed for payment made under this subsec-tion even if the payment was made to a person whose claim was barred under s. 177.29 (1).

(3) A holder who has delivered property, including a certificate of any interest in a business association, but not including money, to the administrator under this chapter may reclaim the property if it is still in the possession of the administrator, without payment of a fee or other charge, upon filing proof that the owner has claimed the property from the holder.

(4) The administrator may accept the holder’s affidavit as sufficient proof of the facts that entitle the holder to recover money and property under this section.

(5) If the holder pays or delivers property to the administrator in good faith and thereafter another person claims the property from the holder or if another state claims the money or property under its laws relating to escheat or abandoned or unclaimed property, the administrator, upon written notice of the claim, shall defend the holder against the claim and indemnify the holder against any liability on the claim.

(6) For the purposes of this section, “good faith” means that all of the following exist:

(a) Payment or delivery was made in a reasonable attempt to comply with this chapter.

(b) The person delivering the property was not a fiduciary then in breach of trust with respect to the property and that the person had a reasonable basis for believing, based on the facts then known to that person, that the property was abandoned for the purposes of this chapter.

(c) There is no showing that the records pursuant to which the delivery was made did not meet reasonable commercial standards of practice in the industry.

(7) Property removed from a safe deposit box or other safe-keeping repository is received by the administrator subject to the holder’s right to be reimbursed for the actual cost of the opening and to any valid lien or contract providing for the holder to be reimbursed for unpaid rent or storage charges and subject to any 3rd party lien. The administrator shall reimburse the holder from the proceeds remaining after deducting the administrator’s selling cost.Chap. 177, §177.20

Crediting of dividends, interest or increments to owner’s account.
Whenever property other than money is paid or delivered to the administrator under this chapter, the owner is entitled to receive from the administrator any dividends, interest or other increments realized or accruing on the property at or before liquidation or conversion of the property into money.

Chap. 177, §177.21

Public sale of abandoned property.

(1) Except as provided in subs. (2) and (3), the administrator, within 3 years after the receipt of abandoned property, shall sell it to the highest bidder at public sale in the city, village or town in this state which, in the judgment of the administrator, affords the most favorable market for the property. The administrator may decline the high-est bid and reoffer the property for sale if, in his or her judgment, the bid is insufficient. If the administrator determines that the probable cost of sale exceeds the value of the property, it need not be offered for sale. Any sale held under this section shall be preceded by the publication of one notice, at least 3 weeks in advance of sale, in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the property is to be sold.

(2) Securities listed on an established stock exchange shall be sold at prices prevailing at the time of sale on the exchange. Other securities may be sold over the counter at prices prevailing at the time of sale or by any other method the administrator considers advisable.

(3) Unless the administrator determines that it is in the best interest of this state to do otherwise, he or she shall hold all securities, other than those presumed abandoned under s. 177.10, for at least one year before selling them.

(4) Unless the administrator determines that it is in the best interest of this state to do otherwise, he or she shall hold all securities presumed abandoned under s. 177.10, and delivered to the administrator, for at least 3 years before selling them. If the administrator sells any securities delivered under s. 177.10 before the expiration of the 3–year period, any person making a claim under this chapter before the end of the 3–year period is entitled either to the proceeds of the sale of the securities or to the market value of the securities at the time the claim is made, whichever amount is greater, less any deduction for fees under s. 177.23 (2). A person making a claim under this chapter after the expiration of the 3–year period is entitled to receive either the securities delivered to the administrator by the holder, if the administrator still has them, or to the proceeds from their sale, less any amounts deducted under s. 177.23 (2). No person has any claim under this chapter against this state, the holder, any transfer agent, registrar or other person acting for or on behalf of a holder for any appreciation in the value of the property occurring after delivery by the holder to the administrator.

(5) The purchaser of property at any sale conducted by the administrator under this chapter takes the property free of all claims of the owner or previous holder and of all persons claiming through or under them. The administrator shall execute all documents necessary to complete the transfer of ownership.Chap. 177, §177.22

Deposit of funds.

(1) Except as provided in sub. (2), the administrator shall deposit in the school fund all funds received under this chapter, including the clear proceeds from the sale of abandoned property under s. 177.22. Before making the deposit, the administrator shall record the name and last–known address of each person appearing from the holders’ reports to be entitled to the property and the name and last–known address of each insured person or annuitant and beneficiary and, with respect to each policy or contract listed in the report of an insurance com-pany, its number, the name of the company and the amount due.

The information recorded by the administrator under this subsection is not available for inspection or copying under s. 19.35 (1) until 24 months after payment or delivery of the property is due under s. 177.19 (1).

(2) The administrator shall deposit in the general fund an amount necessary for the payment of claims under ss. 177.24 to 177.26 and administrative expenses. Administrative expenses consist of any of the following:

(a) Any costs in connection with the sale of abandoned property.

(b) Costs of mailing and publication in connection with any abandoned property.

(c) Reasonable service charges.

(d) Costs incurred in examining records of holders of property and in collecting the property from those holders.

(e) Salaries of the employes of the treasurer that are attributable to the administration of this chapter.Chap. 177, §177.23

Filing of claim with administrator.

(1) Any person, except another state, claiming an interest in any property paid or delivered under this chapter may file with the administrator a claim on a form prescribed by the administrator and verified by the claimant.

(2) The administrator shall consider each claim within 90 days after it is filed and may refer any claim to the attorney general for an opinion. For each claim referred, the attorney general shall advise the administrator either to allow it or to deny it in whole or in part. The administrator shall give written notice to the claimant if the claim is denied in whole or in part. The notice may be given by mailing it to the last address, if any, stated in the claim as the address to which notices are to be sent. If no address for notices is stated in the claim, the notice may be mailed to the last address, if any, of the claimant as stated in the claim. No notice of denial need be given if the claim fails to state either the last address to which notices are to be sent or the address of the claimant.

(3) If a claim is allowed, the administrator shall deliver the property to the claimant or pay the claimant the amount the administrator actually received or the net proceeds of the sale of the property, together with any additional amount required under s. 177.21. If the claim is for property presumed abandoned under s. 177.10 which was sold by the administrator within 3 years after the date of delivery, the amount payable for that claim is the value of the property at the time the claim was made or the net proceeds of sale, whichever is greater. If the property claimed was interest bearing to the owner on the date of surrender by the holder, the administrator shall pay interest at a rate of 6% per year or any less-er rate the property earned while in the possession of the holder. Interest begins to accrue when the property is delivered to the administrator and ceases on the earlier of the expiration of 10 years after delivery or the date on which payment is made to the owner. No interest on interest–bearing property is payable for any period before December 31, 1984.

(4) Any holder who pays the owner for property that has been delivered to this state which, if claimed from the administrator, would be subject to sub. (3) shall add interest as provided under sub. (3). The added interest shall be repaid to the holder by the administrator in the same manner as the principal.Chap. 177, §177.24

Claim of another state to recover property; pro-cedure.

(1) At any time after property has been paid or delivered to the administrator under this chapter, another state may recover the property under any of the following circumstances:

(a) The property was subjected to custody by this state because the records of the holder did not reflect the last–known address of the apparent owner when the property was presumed abandoned under this chapter, and the other state establishes that the last– known address of the apparent owner or other person entitled to the property was in that state and that, under the laws of that state, the property escheated to or was subject to a claim of abandonment by that state.

(b) The last–known address of the apparent owner or other person entitled to the property, as reflected by the records of the holder, is in the other state and under the laws of that state the property has escheated to or become subject to a claim of abandonment by that state.

(c) The records of the holder were erroneous in that they did not accurately reflect the actual owner of the property and the last–known address of the actual owner is in the other state and, under the laws of that state, the property escheated to or was subject to a claim of abandonment by that state.

(d) The property was subjected to custody by this state under s. 177.03 (6) and, under the laws of the state of domicile of the holder, the property has escheated to or become subject to a claim of abandonment by that state.

(e) The property is the sum payable on a travelers check, money order or other similar instrument that was subjected to custody by this state under s. 177.04, the instrument was purchased in the other state and, under the laws of that state, the property escheated to or became subject to a claim of abandonment by that state.

(2) The claim of another state to recover escheated or aban-doned property shall be presented in a form prescribed by the administrator, who shall decide the claim within 90 days after it is presented. The administrator shall allow the claim if he or she determines that the other state is entitled to the abandoned property under sub. (1).

(3) The administrator shall require a state, before recovering property under this section, to agree to indemnify this state and its officers and employes against any liability on a claim for the prop-erty.Chap. 177, §177.25

Action to establish claim.
A person aggrieved by a decision of the administrator or whose claim has not been acted upon within 90 days after its filing may bring an action to establish the claim in the circuit court, naming the administrator as a defen-dant.

The action shall be brought within 90 days after the decision of the administrator or within 180 days after the filing of the claim if the administrator has failed to act on it. If the person establishes the claim in an action against the administrator, the court shall award the person costs and reasonable attorney fees.

Chap. 177, §177.26

Election to take payment or delivery.

(1) The administrator may decline to receive any property reported under this chapter if the administrator considers the property to have a value that is less than the anticipated expense of notice and sale. If the administrator elects not to receive custody of the property, the holder shall be notified within 120 days after filing the report required under s. 177.17.

(2) A holder may report and deliver property before the prop-erty is presumed abandoned with the written consent of the administrator and upon the conditions and terms prescribed by the administrator. Property delivered under this subsection shall be held by the administrator and is not presumed abandoned until the time it would be presumed abandoned under this chapter.Chap. 177, §177.27

Destruction or disposition of property having insubstantial commercial value; immunity from liability.
If the administrator determines after investigation that any property delivered under this chapter has insubstantial commercial val-ue, the administrator may destroy or otherwise dispose of the property at any time. No action or proceeding may be maintained against this state or any of its officers or against the holder for or on account of any action taken by the administrator under this section.

Chap. 177, §177.28

Periods of limitation.

(1) The expiration, before, on or after December 31, 1984, of any period of time specified by contract, statute or court order, during which an owner may make a claim for money or property or during which an owner may commence or enforce an action or proceeding to obtain payment of a claim for money or to recover property, does not prevent the money or property from being presumed abandoned or affect any duty to file a report or to pay or deliver abandoned property to the administrator as required by this chapter, subject to sub. (2).

(2)

(a) Except as provided in par. (b), no civil action or proceeding with respect to any duty of a holder under this chapter may be commenced more than 5 years after the duty arose.

(b) The expiration of any period of time during which an action or proceeding may be commenced or enforced to obtain payment of a claim for money or to recover property may not serve as a defense to an action or proceeding brought by or on behalf of the administrator against a governmental entity, or an officer or employe thereof, for the payment or delivery of abandoned property to the administrator or for the enforcement of a penalty.Chap. 177, §177.29

Requests for reports and examination of records.

(1) The administrator, at reasonable times and upon reasonable notice, may examine the records of any person to determine whether the person has complied with this chapter. The administrator may designate the division of banking or other appropriate regulatory authority to examine the records of regu-lated institutions to determine if the institutions have complied with this chapter. The administrator may conduct the examination even if the person believes it is not in possession of any property reportable or deliverable under this chapter.

(2) If a person is treated under s. 177.12 as the holder of the property only insofar as the interest of the business association in the property is concerned, the administrator may examine the records of the person as provided under sub. (2) if the administrator has given the required notice to both the person and the busi-ness association at least 90 days before the examination.

(3) If an examination of the records of a person results in the disclosure of property reportable and deliverable under this chapter, the administrator may assess the cost of the examination against the holder at the rate of $150 a day for each examiner, but the charges may not exceed the value of the property found to be reportable and deliverable. The cost of examination under sub. (3) may be imposed only against the business association.

(4) If a holder, after December 31, 1984, fails to maintain the records required under s. 177.31, and the records of the holder available for the periods subject to this chapter are insufficient to permit the preparation of a report, a court may determine the liability of such holder based on the court’s findings as to a reason-able estimate of the amount due.Chap. 177, §177.30

Retention of records.

(1) Every holder required to file a report under s. 177.17 shall, as to any property for which it has obtained the last–known address of the owner, maintain a record of the name and last–known address of the owner for 5 years after the property is reported, unless a shorter time is provided in sub. (2) or by rule of the administrator.

(2) Any business association that sells in this state its travelers checks, money orders or other similar written instruments, other than 3rd party bank checks on which the business association is directly liable, or that provides such instruments to others for sale in this state, shall, for 3 years after the date the property is report-able, maintain a record of those instruments while they remain outstanding, indicating the state and date of issue.Chap. 177, §177.31

Enforcement.
The attorney general may bring an action in circuit court or in federal court to enforce this chapter.

Chap. 177, §177.32

Interstate agreements and cooperation; joint and reciprocal actions with other states.

(1) The administrator may enter into agreements with other states to exchange information needed to enable this or another state to audit or otherwise determine unclaimed property that it or another state may be entitled to subject to a claim of custody. The administrator may by rule require the reporting of information needed to enable compliance with agreements made under this section and may prescribe the form of the required reports.

(2) To avoid conflicts between the administrator’s procedures and the procedures of administrators in other jurisdictions that enact the uniform unclaimed property act, the administrator shall, consistent with the purposes, policies and provisions of this chapter, before adopting, amending or repealing rules, advise and con-sult with administrators in other jurisdictions that enact substan-tially the uniform unclaimed property act and shall take into consideration the rules of administrators in other jurisdictions that enact the uniform unclaimed property act.

(3) The administrator may join with other states to seek enforcement of this chapter against any person who is or may be holding property reportable under this chapter.

(4) At the request of another state, the attorney general may bring an action in the name of the administrator of the other state in the circuit court to enforce the unclaimed property laws of the other state against a holder in this state of property subject to escheat or a claim of abandonment by the other state, if the other state has agreed to pay expenses incurred by the attorney general in bringing the action.

(5) The administrator may request the attorney general of another state or any other person to bring an action in the other state in the name of the administrator. This state shall pay all expenses including attorney fees in any action under this subsection. The administrator may agree to pay the person bringing the action attorney fees based in whole or in part on a percentage of the value of any property recovered in the action. No expenses paid under this subsection may be deducted from the amount that is subject to the claim by the owner under this chapter.Chap. 177, §177.33

Interest and penalties.

(1) A person who fails to pay or deliver property within the time prescribed by this chapter shall pay the administrator interest at the annual rate of 18% on the property or value thereof from the date the property should have been paid or delivered.

(2) A person who wilfully fails to file a report or perform any other duty required under this chapter is subject to a forfeiture of not less than $100 for each day the report is withheld or the duty is not performed, but not more than $5,000.

(3) A person who wilfully fails to pay or deliver property to the administrator as required under this chapter is subject to a forfeiture equal to 25% of the value of the property that should have been paid or delivered.

(4) A person who wilfully refuses, after written demand by the administrator, to pay or deliver property to the administrator as required under this chapter may be fined not less than $100 nor more than $5,000 or imprisoned for not more than 9 months or both.Chap. 177, §177.34

Agreement to locate reported property.

(1) Except for agreements made under s. 177.33, if a person agrees, for compensation and on behalf of the owner of property reported under s. 177.17, to locate, deliver, recover or assist in the recovery of the reported property, the agreement shall be in writing and shall include all of the following:

(a) A description of the property and the value of the property.

(b) A clear and prominent statement of the fee or other compensation to be paid by or on behalf of the owner, which may not exceed 20% of the actual value of the property recovered.

(c) A clear and prominent statement disclosing the name and address of the holder and whether the property has been paid to the administrator.

(d) The notarized signature of the owner.

(2) An agreement entered into under this section is not enforceable if the agreement is entered into within 24 months after payment or delivery of the property is due under s. 177.19 (1).

Chap. 177, §177.35

Foreign transactions.
This chapter does not apply to any property held, due and owing in a foreign country and arising out of a foreign transaction.

Chap. 177, §177.36