(a) Except as otherwise provided by law, any money, excluding restitution to victims, that has been deposited with a superior court, or that a superior court is holding in trust for the lawful owner, in a court bank account or in a court trust account in a county treasury, that remains unclaimed for three years shall become the property of the superior court if, after published notice pursuant to this section, the money is not claimed or no verified complaint is filed and served. After published notice pursuant to this section, if the money is not claimed or no verified complaint is filed and served, money representing restitution collected on behalf of victims that remains unclaimed for three years shall be deposited either into the State Restitution Fund exclusively for the purposes of providing victim services or into the general fund of a county that administers a victim services program exclusively for the provision of victim services.
(b) At any time after the expiration of the three-year period specified in subdivision (a), the executive officer of the superior court may cause a notice to be published once a week for two successive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation published in the county in which the court is located. The notice shall state the amount of money, the fund in which it is held, and that it is proposed that the money will become the property of the court on a designated date not less than 45 days nor more than 60 days after the first publication of the notice.
(c) Before or after publication, a party of interest may file a claim with the court executive officer that shall include the claimant’s name, address, amount of claim, the grounds on which the claim is founded, and any other information that may be required by the court executive officer. The claim shall be filed before the designated date on which unclaimed money becomes the property of the court as provided under subdivision (b), and the executive officer shall accept or reject that claim.
(d) If the superior court executive officer rejects the claim, or takes no action on the claim within 30 days after it is filed, the party that submitted the claim may file a verified complaint seeking to recover all, or a specified part, of the money in the court in the county in which the notice is published. The copy of the complaint and summons shall be served on the court executive officer. The court executive officer shall withhold the release of the portion of unclaimed money for which a court action has been filed as provided in this section until the court renders a decision or the claim is settled. Any portion of the unclaimed money not covered by the verified complaint shall become the property of the court if no other claim or verified complaint has been filed regarding it within the time specified in this section. If the party that submitted the claim does not file a verified complaint within 30 days after the date that the court mailed notice that the claim was rejected or within 60 days after the claim was filed, the money shall become the property of the court.
(e) Notwithstanding subdivisions (c) and (d), the court executive officer may release the unclaimed money to the depositor of the unclaimed money, or the depositor’s heir, beneficiary, or duly appointed representative, if the depositor or the depositor’s heir, beneficiary, or duly appointed representative claims the money before the date that the money becomes the property of the superior court, upon submitting proof satisfactory to the court executive officer.
(f) If no claim is filed under subdivision (c) and the time for filing claims has expired, the money shall become the property of the court. If a claim or claims are filed with respect to a portion of the money, but not the remainder of the money, and the time for filing claims under subdivision (c) has expired, the remainder of the money shall become the property of the court.
(g) Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, the presiding judge may direct the transfer of any individual deposit of twenty dollars ($20) or less, or any amount if the name of the original depositor is unknown, that remains unclaimed for one year to the Trial Court Operations Fund without the need for publication of notice.
(h) The court executive officer may delegate the responsibilities provided in this section to appropriate superior court staff.
(i) When any money deposited and held under this section becomes the property of a superior court, the presiding judge shall transfer it to the Trial Court Operations Fund.
(Amended by Stats. 2010, Ch. 212, Sec. 9. (AB 2767) Effective January 1, 2011.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018