Patronis to Delaware: Give back the $21 million you owe Florida citizens

by | Jun 14, 2023

  • Florida’s chief financial officer is demanding that Delaware return millions in unclaimed property.
  • The demand follows a recent Supreme Court ruling on the distribution of unclaimed property between states.
  • Florida has given Delaware 30 days to outline a plan for returning the funds.

A long-simmering battle over unclaimed property in Delaware came to a head Tuesday when Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, Jimmy Patronis, issued an open letter to his counterpart in Delaware, Colleen C. Davis.

In the aftermath of a pivotal Supreme Court decision, Delaware v. Pennsylvania, Patronis demanded that the state of Delaware swiftly return an estimated $21 million held in the form of unclaimed property that belongs to residents of Florida. The property includes proceeds from financial instruments that, according to the Supreme Court decision, should have been allocated to the state where the instrument was purchased.

Patronis’ letter (posted in full below) underscored the stakes of a financial feud that stretches back more than 20 years. His message is clear: the time for delay is over. He invoked the recent high court decision, citing its verdict that unclaimed proceeds should be governed by the Federal Disposition Act.

The Supreme Court case of Delaware v. Pennsylvania, 143 U.S 696 (2023), marked a significant shift in the handling of abandoned financial assets. MoneyGram, a financial instrument service, has been holding onto the unclaimed property, and the case determined that these assets should return to the state where the original transaction took place.

“This isn’t just about financial protocol – this is about fairness to the citizens of Florida who’ve been waiting for their rightful money for over two decades,” Patronis said.

Florida’s Division of Unclaimed Property estimates that the $21 million currently held in Delaware belongs to Florida residents and should be returned in compliance with the Supreme Court ruling. Patronis stressed that the Supreme Court had remanded the case to the Special Master for further proceedings, and he urged Delaware to cooperate with the process.

With the issuance of his letter, Patronis has given Delaware a 30-day window to respond, outlining a remittal timeline. His primary aim is to ensure that “each impacted Floridian” sees their dollars returned promptly.

While this letter is a significant step forward in the long-standing dispute between the states, the final outcome of the unclaimed property case will depend on Delaware’s response and potential court-enforced actions.

As of now, Davis has not issued a public response to the letter. The ball is in Delaware’s court, and the next move will determine the fate of millions of dollars and thousands of Florida residents waiting for their unclaimed property.

Delaware State Treasurer Letterhead

1 Comment

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