Nebraska State Treasurer Don Stenberg has been elected and has assumed the presidency of the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators (NAUPA) for 2015, effective Jan. 1. Stenberg succeeds Walter Graham, chief of unclaimed property for the Florida Department of Financial Services.
Stenberg, who is beginning a second term as Nebraska State Treasurer, oversees five divisions in the State Treasurer’s Office, including the Unclaimed Property Division. Last year, Nebraska’s unclaimed property program returned more than $11.7 million to 16,592 owners. That was the largest dollar amount returned since 2009.
Stenberg, who holds a Master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School and a law degree with honors from Harvard Law School, previously served as Nebraska’s Attorney General from 1991 to 2003.
Stenberg said his priority as NAUPA president is to continue the organization’s work to provide research and recommendations to the Uniform Law Commission, which is in the process of updating and improving the Model Uniform Unclaimed Property Act that serves as a guide for individual state unclaimed property programs like Nebraska’s. A committee of the Uniform Law Commission is working on revisions to the act, which was last revised in 1995.The original act was written in 1954.
The Uniform Law Commission is expected to act on proposed revisions in the summer of 2016.
“The process of developing an improved Model Uniform Unclaimed Property Act is a major undertaking that is of critical importance to NAUPA and to unclaimed property program administrators across the United States and in neighboring jurisdictions. Because of this, NAUPA is committed to paying close attention and responding promptly and thoroughly to all proposals offered by stakeholders, which is a time consuming task for an organization dependent on volunteers. Eventually, we are looking forward to a new model act that promotes and provides excellent service for holders, who are obliged to report unclaimed property, and for owners, who are legally entitled to claim the property,” said Stenberg, who is a member of the NAUPA Uniform Unclaimed Property Act Revision Committee.
“NAUPA advocates that the existing Uniform Unclaimed Property Act is sound, but could be improved upon, particularly with respect to emerging payment methods, new property types, and advances in technology,” Stenberg added. “The association believes it is critically important to preserve the fundamental consumer protection underpinnings of unclaimed property law.”
Stenberg said his background as an attorney and as Nebraska’s chief financial officer and his long-time experience in state government give him the skills and perspective to oversee NAUPA’s input into the development of the improved act and to protect the interests of those the act is intended to serve—the businesses and organizations that turn over unclaimed property to the states and the owners of that property.
Stenberg praised his predecessor, Walter Graham of Florida: “Walter did a great job and put in a tremendous amount of work toward the model legislation and also the Uniform Law Commission initiative, offering very insightful comments in the process. I greatly look forward to continuing to work with him next year in his role as immediate past president.”
According to NAUPA, 2.5 million claims totaling $2.25 billion were returned to rightful owners through unclaimed property programs in Fiscal Year 2011. At the same time, $41.7 billion is still waiting to be claimed. NAUPA said unclaimed property laws have existed since the 1930s, but have become broader and better enforced in the last 25 years. Unclaimed property is one of the original consumer protection programs.
As the foremost authority on unclaimed property, NAUPA is a largely volunteer organization whose purpose is to promote and strengthen unclaimed property administration and interstate cooperation and to provide a forum for the exchange of information and ideas. Its members represent all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and several Canadian provinces. NAUPA is a network of the National Association of State Treasurers (NAST).
While NAUPA is an association of state unclaimed property programs, databases of owners are located and maintained by individual states, not NAUPA. Most states, including Nebraska, participate in MissingMoney.com, a national, searchable database of unclaimed property officially endorsed by NAUPA. Unclaimed property in Nebraska can be searched at www.treasurer.nebraska.gov.
Other NAUPA officers elected in December to serve in 2015 include the following:
Senior Vice President - Josh Joyce, Administrator, Unclaimed Property Section, Arizona Department of Revenue
Secretary-Treasurer - Linda C. Gamble, Senior Assistant State Treasurer, South Carolina Treasury
Midwestern Regional Vice President - Robert Commodore, Senior Director, Consumer & Industry Services, Minnesota Department of Commerce
Southern Regional Vice President - Tony Geiger, Director, Unclaimed Property, Mississippi Treasury
Western Regional Vice President - Dennis Johnston, Administrator, Division of Unclaimed Property, Utah Treasury
Eastern Regional Vice President - Lawrence M. Schantz, Director of the Office of Unclaimed Funds, New York State Comptroller's Office
The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators is the foremost authority on unclaimed property and the affirmed leader of the coalition of states, administrators, and holders working together to reunite rightful owners with their property. The purpose of the association is to promote and strengthen unclaimed property administration and interstate cooperation in order to enhance States' return of unclaimed property to rightful owners and provide a forum for the open exchange of information and ideas. Members represent all states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, several Canadian provinces, and other governmental entities. NAUPA is a network of the National Association of State Treasurers and affiliated with the Council of State Governments. Find out more at www.naupa.org