Looking for ways to deal with greatly reduced tax collections, states are focusing on their unclaimed property statutes as a potential source of revenue. States are discovering that by changing their laws they can increase what escheats to the state coffers. Changes like expanding the definition of what constitutes "unclaimed property," shortening the period for owners to claim it and limiting recovery options result in more of the property going to the state (and less to the owners).
It is estimated that states collectively hold $33 billion in unclaimed property. Delaware expects to collect $380 million in 2009. So it is no wonder that struggling states are tempted to grab what they can in these disconcerting developments.