In the Matter of the Nov. 8, 1996 Determination of the N.J. Dept. of Treasury, Unclaimed Property

156 N.J. 599, 722 A.2d 536 (1999)
  • Opinion Date: January 28, 1999

ESCHEAT; GIFT CERTIFICATES—Gift certificates redeemable only in merchandise or services are not subject to escheat requirements.

The Uniform Unclaimed Property Act establishes a procedure by which intangible property that is presumed abandoned is transferred to the State as custodian for the absent owner. In accordance with that procedure, a person holding property that is presumed abandoned is required to report that property to the State. A hotel that issued gift certificates which were good for one year and were redeemable only for services and merchandise sought a determination from the Department of Treasury as to whether unredeemed gift certificates were subject to the Act. The Department ruled that they were. New Jersey’s version of the Uniform Act expressly omitted the words “gift certificates” even though they were present in the Model Act. Consequently, the Court found that the legislative history of the Act demonstrated that such an omission was intentional. To the Court, the Act dealt with claims for the payment of money. A gift certificate that could only be redeemed for service or merchandise did not bind the obligor to pay money. Consequently, the Court ruled that gift certificates were not included within the category of intangible property that was subject to escheat.