North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
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August 15, 2003

Mr. Joseph R. Stewart Chief Deputy State Treasurer 325 N. Salisbury Street Raleigh, NC 27603-1395

RE: Advisory Opinion; State Treasurer’s Authority To Expend Funds In The Escheats Fund; G.S. 116B-6(h)

Dear Mr. Stewart:

You have asked whether G.S. § 116B-6(h) gives you the authority to expend funds from the Escheats Fund to publish the names of individuals who may have claims against the Escheats Fund. We understand that such publications will be addition to those required by G.S. § 116B-62(b) and G.S. § 116B-65(a). As explained below, we have concluded that you do have such authority under G.S. § 116B-6(h).

Chapter 116B (Escheats and Abandoned Property) clearly encourages the return of property upon the filing of a valid claim. G.S. § 116B-67. The Chapter requires the State Treasurer to prepare and deliver a yearly list of owners (persons who may have a legal or equitable interest in escheated property) of unclaimed property to the clerk of superior court of each county and to publish such list for two consecutive weeks in at least two newspapers having general circulation in the State. G.S. § 116B-62(a) and (b). G.S. § 116-65(a) requires the State Treasurer to publish a single notice of the proposed sale of abandoned property at least three weeks in advance of the sale in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the property is to be sold.

G.S. 116B-6(h) provides:

(h) Expenditures. -- The Treasurer may expend the funds in the Escheat Fund, other than funds in the Escheat Account, for the payment of claims for refunds to owners, holders and claimants under G.S. 116B-4; for the payment of costs of maintenance and upkeep of abandoned or escheated property; costs of preparing lists of names of owners of abandoned property to be furnished to clerks of superior court; costs of notice and publication; costs of appraisals; fees of persons employed pursuant to G.S. 116B-8 costs involved in determining whether a decedent died without heirs; costs of a title search of real property that has escheated; and costs of auction or sale under this Chapter. All other costs, including salaries of personnel, necessary to carry out the duties of the Treasurer under this Chapter, shall be appropriated from the funds of the Escheat Fund pursuant to the provisions of Article 1, Chapter 143 of the General Statutes. (emphasis added).

Mr. Joseph R. Stewart August 15, 2003 Page 2

This provision specifically authorizes the State Treasurer to expend Escheats funds for “costs of notice and publication”.

When the language of a statute is clear and unambiguous, the court must give it its plain and definite meaning. Davis v. Granite Corp., 259 N.C. 249, 96 S.E.2d 335 (1963); Hedrick v. Graham, 245 N.C. 249, 96 S.E.2d 129 (1956) . . . . Matters necessarily implied by the language of a statute must be given effect to the same extent as matters specifically expressed. Board of Education v. Dickson, 235 N.C. 359, 70 S.E.2d 14 (1952).“ Lutz v. Gaston County Bd. of Education, 282 N.C. 208, 220, 192 S.E.2d 463, 471-472 (1972).

Reading Chapter 116B as a whole leads to the conclusion that the General Assembly intended that individuals who have claims for escheated and abandoned property be notified.

Based on the foregoing, we conclude that the Treasurer’s authority to expend funds for “costs of notice of publication” is not limited to only the cost of publication of notice as required by G.S. § 116B-62(b) and G.S. § 116B-65(a). Therefore, pursuant to G.S. § 116B-6(h), the Treasurer may expend funds from the Escheats fund to publish the name of individuals who may have claims against the Escheats Fund.

Should you have any further questions, please contact the undersigned.

Sincerely,

Ann Reed Senior Deputy Attorney General

John R. Corne Special Deputy Attorney General