As this website has already pointed out, state governments have no financial interest in reuniting citizens with their unclaimed money and property. States use the money to patch holes in their budgets, or even to fund education, as is the case in Florida where unclaimed money is deposited into the State School Trust Fund, which helps support public schools. But even when the story of unclaimed money has a happy ending, and a person is able to be reunited with their unclaimed funds, what about the interest earned on the money while it was in the state’s possession?
This is precisely the issue at the heart of a potential class action lawsuit filed in late July 2022 by a St. Petersburg resident, Alieda Maron. The class-action lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of a law that directs the state’s handling of unclaimed property.
If owners, or their heirs, find out about the property, they can recover money from the state. But the lawsuit contends that the unclaimed property law is unconstitutional because it does not provide “just compensation” to the owners.
It said the law “prohibits the state from paying any interest reflecting the time value or other value of an owner’s property. Accordingly, the act effectively provides the state with an interest-free loan of unclaimed private property funds that the act directs to be co-mingled with the state’s school fund while in the state’s custody.”
Are citizens owed “just compensation” or is the interest doing enough public good that citizens reunited with their once unclaimed funds should just take their property and go about their merry way? What do you think?