Bulletin: NL000074

Date:
April 13, 1999
To:
All Issuing Offices
RE:
Escheat of Unclaimed Property

Dear Associates:

Many states say that earnest money and other escrowed funds are subject to escheat after a specified time or unless both the buyer and the seller communicate with the title company within a stated time (such as 1-3 years).
Recommendations:

1. Determine state requirements for escheat of earnest money and other deposits: When must escrowed funds be reported and what reporting is required.

2. Do not charge a service or account fee against funds that are escheated unless state law and your escrow agreement allow.

3. If holding money for repairs or for an indemnity, consult with your attorney or Stewart underwriting personnel. The agreement generally should have a time limit to return the funds or to take other action, such as inter-pleading the money.

4. Diary (or tickler) your earnest money files for review six months (or shorter time if state law requires) after receipt of the earnest money.

5. Re-diary the files for review at an appropriate time consistent with the state law.

6. Prior to the time for delivery of escheated funds to the state, send a letter to the parties who have claims to the escrow. The letter should request instruction by the parties as to release of the money. The letter should include a Release of Earnest Money form if the funds are earnest money. It should say the title company may interplead the funds or tender the funds to the state as unclaimed funds if it does not receive instructions from all parties by a certain date. Be sure your letter has a certain date for parties to reply.

7. If you decide to interplead, you must interplead funds before the funds are subject to escheat under state law.

8. If you are an independent agent, we recommend you contact your attorney or accountant and establish your own procedures.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF DEVELOPMENTS RELATING TO APPLICABLE LAW. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS.

THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER  AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.

References

Bulletins Replaced:
None
Related Bulletins:
None
Underwriting Manual:
None
Exceptions Manual:
None
Forms:
None