Mike has extensive experience representing governmental entities, banks, trust companies, insurance companies and public utilities in commercial transactions, before regulatory authorities and in legislative matters. For more than 25 years, Mike has also advised numerous companies, including Fortune 500 companies, on unclaimed property issues and in audits and in voluntary compliance programs.
Mike’s governmental affairs clients include governmental entities, such as the Delaware River & Bay Authority and the Delaware Department of Insurance. He has represented various financial institutions and utilities, such as Delmarva Power & Light Company and Comcast, before regulatory authorities and state, county and local governments and in legislative and public policy matters before Delaware government as well.
Mike has been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America since 2009. In the 2020 edition, he was designated “Lawyer of the Year” for administrative and regulatory law. He frequently speaks on unclaimed property issues and is coauthor of the revised Bloomberg BNA Corporate Practice Series Portfolio, Unclaimed Property. Mike has Co-Chaired the Uniform Laws Commission Drafting Committee to Revise the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act, legislation which forms the basis for the law of unclaimed property for over 40 states.
Mike has served in numerous leadership roles with both Delaware and national business and professional organizations. He has served as President of the Uniform Law Commission, a bi-partisan organization which drafts and enacts uniform and model legislation for all of the states on a variety of topics affecting individuals and businesses and he is also a Trustee of the Uniform Law Foundation. He is a Past President of the Delaware State Bar Association and member of the board of the Delaware Bar Foundation. He was appointed in 2017 by Delaware Governor John Carney to serve as Chair of the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (DEFAC), a council with representatives from both the public and private sectors, charged with providing non-partisan and objective revenue and expenditure estimates to the Governor and General Assembly and with providing advice to the Governor and the Secretary of Finance on the State’s overall financial conditions, current and projected economic conditions and trends, tax policy and current and projected trends in the national and local economies which may affect Delaware.
Mike also serves as counsel to the Board of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, and is a former board member, and serves on the Board of the Delaware Public Policy Institute, the Pete du Pont Freedom Foundation, Artesian Resources Corporation and the Rockefeller Trust Company of Delaware.
Active in Delaware politics for more than 35 years, Mike has advised, and raised funds for the campaigns of, Delaware Governors, Attorneys General and Insurance Commissioners as well as numerous members of the Delaware General Assembly and other Delaware elected officials.
News & Insights
- Speaking Engagement, 05.06.2021
Morris Nichols partners Michael Houghton and Donna Culver will join members of Ernst & Young LLP’s Unclaimed Property and Escheat Services practice for a 60-minute webcast addressing the current unclaimed property landscape.
- Client Alert, 02.19.2021
As many American businesses continue to function remotely, Delaware – like other states – has concluded that VDAs and unclaimed property audits initiated by Delaware can and should continue as well. Therefore, it is accelerating its scrutiny of Delaware formed companies.
- Speaking Engagement, Virtual, 02.05.2021
Mike Houghton will speak on the Delaware economy, DEFAC and its mission, and his personal leadership experiences in various positions both in Delaware and on the national stage.
- Webinar, Webinar, 12.09.2020
Morris Nichols teams with the KPMG National Unclaimed Property practice for a 60-minute unclaimed property webcast.
- Firm News, 08.20.2020
Thirty-one Morris Nichols attorneys were recognized in the 2021 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. The results are based on peer-review evaluations from more than 67,000 eligible attorneys.
- Michael Houghton Appointed Chair of National Law Group’s New Study Committee on Mitigation of Public Health Emergency Business DisruptionsFirm News, 05.04.2020
Wilmington, DE (May 4, 2020) - Michael Houghton, a partner with Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, has been appointed Chair of the new Uniform Law Commission (ULC) Study Committee on Mitigation of Public Health Emergency Business Disruptions.
- Unclaimed Property: A Delicate Balance for Delaware - Enforcing the Law in the Face of Ongoing Legal Challenges and Economic UncertaintyArticle, Delaware Business magazine, May/June 2020
For Delaware, the legal home to thousands of “holders,” collection of, and fiscal reliance on, unclaimed property has always been tricky.
- Mike Houghton, Chair of DEFAC, Quoted on State of Delaware Declining Revenue Estimates Amid COVID-19 Pandemic UncertaintyMedia Mention, The News Journal and Delaware State News, 04.21.2020
On April 20, the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (“DEFAC”) lowered the state’s official government revenue projections as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc with national and state economies.
- Speaking Engagement, New Castle, Delaware, 02.07.2020
- Article, Delaware Business magazine, 01.01.2020
The dominance of Delaware in entity formations, especially corporations, is well known. But why is this the case, what goes into making - and keeping - the “Delaware Brand?”
- Firm News, 08.15.2019
Wilmington, DE (August 15, 2019) - Thirty-five Morris Nichols attorneys were selected for inclusion in the 2020 edition of The Best Lawyers in America. The results are based on peer-review evaluations from more than 94,000 eligible attorneys.
- Speaking Engagement, Providence, Rhode Island, 05.21.2019 Through 05.24.2019
- Firm News, 09.24.2018
Newark, DE (September 24, 2018) - Artesian Resources Corporation (Nasdaq: ARTNA), which includes operations in Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania, today announced the expansion of the Board of Directors by appointing Michael Houghton. The expansion of the Board of Directors recognizes Mr. Houghton’s areas of specific expertise as a new addition to the current board.
- Governor John Carney Issues Executive Order 21 Implementing Budget Smoothing Recommendations of Advisory Panel to DEFAC, chaired by Morris Nichols Partner Mike HoughtonFirm News, 06.30.2018
On June 30, Governor John Carney signed an executive order directing the state budget office and the panel that sets Delaware's official revenue forecast to implement the recommendations of an Advisory Panel to the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (DEFAC) on “budget smoothing.”
- Governor Recognizes Michael Houghton’s Contribution to Advisory Panel to DEFAC Report on Fiscal Controls and Budget SmoothingFirm News, 05.16.2018
- Firm News, 06.09.2017
Wilmington, DE (June 9, 2017) - Michael Houghton, a partner with the Wilmington, Delaware law firm of Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, has been elected President of the Delaware State Bar Association (“Association”), effective July 1, 2017.
- Firm News, 04.07.2017
Wilmington, DE (April 7, 2017) - Michael Houghton, a partner with the Wilmington, Delaware law firm of Morris, Nichols, Arsht & Tunnell LLP, has been appointed as Chair of the Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (“DEFAC”) by Governor John Carney.
- Media Mention, Bloomberg BNA, 02.06.2017
In an article titled, “Delaware Revamps Unclaimed Property After Lawsuits,” Morris Nichols partner Michael Houghton spoke with Bloomberg BNA about unclaimed property legislation enacted by Delaware Gov. John Carney on February 2, 2017. “This is an absolute and complete revision of the Delaware law,” he said. “The entire Delaware unclaimed program statute has been rewritten.”
- Michael Houghton Quoted in The News Journal on Proposed Legislation to Reform Delaware Unclaimed Property ProgramMedia Mention, The News Journal, 01.19.2017
In an article published by The New Journal titled, “State Overhauling Unclaimed Property Law,” Morris Nichols partner and ULC drafting committee co-chair Michael Houghton described the legislation as a step in the right direction. “My view is that it is not perfect, but I don’t want perfect to be the enemy of the good,” Houghton said. “And it’s good in many respects.”
- Michael Houghton Quoted in Delaware State News and The News Journal on Temple-Inland Settlement Impact on Delaware Unclaimed Property ProgramMedia Mention, Delaware State News and The News Journal, 08.09.2016
Morris Nichols partner Michael Houghton spoke with Delaware State News and The News Journal regarding the consequences of the litigation and the settlement, noting this and other lawsuits challenging the state’s unclaimed property practices “continue to cast a real cloud over the Delaware program.”
- Article, Tax Management Weekly State Tax Report, 07.01.2016
This article discuss the availability and specifics of these programs in seven states.
- Michael Houghton Quoted in The News Journal on Multi-State Unclaimed Property Lawsuit Against Delaware in the United States Supreme CourtMedia Mention, The News Journal, 06.10.2016
A coalition of states has filed a lawsuit against Delaware challenging the state’s collection of more than $150 million of unclaimed money orders in the United States Supreme Court. Morris Nichols partner Michael Houghton spoke with The News Journal regarding potential effects for the First State in the article entitled, “Money Order Lawsuit Could Impact State Budget.” Mike has advised Fortune 500 companies and others on unclaimed property issues for more than 25 years. He is co-chair of the Uniform Laws Commission Drafting Committee to Revise the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act.
- Media Mention, The News Journal, 03.09.2016
Morris Nichols partner Michael Houghton spoke with The News Journal about a recent U.S. Supreme Court discussion on unclaimed property which cited Delaware as an example of concerns with unclaimed property owner notifications. Mike has advised Fortune 500 companies and others on unclaimed property issues for more than 25 years and is a member of a Legislative Task Force currently examining, and making recommendations concerning, Delaware’s Unclaimed Property program. He is also co-chair of the Uniform Laws Commission Drafting Committee to Revise the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. In the article, entitled “Supreme Court Calls Out Delaware on Unclaimed Property,” Mike comments on a recent concurring opinion issued by two U.S. Supreme Court Justices which suggests some states - including Delaware - may not be satisfying due process requirements in how they undertake to reunite owners of unclaimed property, remitted to the states, with that lost property.
- Media Mention, Weekly State Tax Report, 03.04.2016
Morris Nichols partner Michael Houghton contributed comments to the BNA Weekly State Tax Report article entitled “Pennsylvania Sues Delaware, MoneyGram for $10.3 Million in Uncashed Checks.” Mike has advised Fortune 500 companies and others on unclaimed property issues for more than 25 years and told Bloomberg BNA the case is “extremely unusual.” He observed that the lawsuit was filed directly against Delaware State Escheator David Gregor, although the dispute appears to lie between the two states. He noted his skepticism that such a dispute, effectively between two states, could be successfully pursued “in a federal district court in Pennsylvania,” noting “I don’t know how that’s sustainable.”
- Michael Houghton Quoted in BNA Weekly State Tax Report’s 2016 Legislative Preview on Unclaimed Property in DelawareMedia Mention, BNA Weekly State Tax Report, 01.01.2016
Morris Nichols partner Michael Houghton contributed comments to the BNA Weekly State Tax Report article entitled “Unclaimed Property, New Revenue, in Focus in Delaware: Legislative Preview.” He noted that unclaimed property is the third-largest revenue source for Delaware and commented that some of the state’s unclaimed property laws are being challenged in court.
- Media Mention, Associated Press, 10.17.2015
- Firm News, 08.25.2015
- Media Mention, BNA’s Daily Tax Report, 07.30.2015
- Firm News, 06.19.2015
- Firm News, 01.13.2015
- Media Mention, State Tax Today, 12.22.2014
- Firm News, 11.20.2014
- Media Mention, The New York Times, 10.31.2014
- Mike Houghton quoted in Delaware Law Weekly regarding Delaware's enactment of the Uniform Law Commission version of the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets ActMedia Mention, Delaware Law Weekly, 08.27.2014
- Media Mention, 07.01.2014
- Media Mention, 06.06.2014
- Delaware's Unclaimed Property Program and It's Impact on Delaware's Reputation in the National Business CommunityMedia Mention, The News Journal, 05.20.2014
- Firm News, 05.09.2014
- Media Mention, The News Journal, 04.25.2014
- Michael Houghton, Walter Tuthill, Author Unclaimed Property Treatise for BNA Corporate Practice Series01.24.2014
- Firm News, 01.16.2014
- Publication, Bloomberg BNA, 2014
Michael Houghton and Walter Tuthill, Morris Nichols Commercial Law Counseling Group partners, served as co-authors of the revised Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) Corporate Practice Series Portfolio: Unclaimed Property.
- Liability Exposure for Delaware Incorporated Companies - The Risk of an Escheat Audit and Delaware’s New Voluntary Disclosure Program to Avoid PenaltiesArticle, 04.02.2013
Jeff Wolters, Morris Nichols Corporate Law Counseling Group partner, and Mike Houghton, Morris Nichols Unclaimed Property Law Counseling Group partner, co-authored Liability Exposure for Delaware Incorporated Companies - The Risk of an Escheat Audit and Delaware’s New Voluntary Disclosure Program to Avoid Penalties appearing in the April 2013 issue of TerraLex Connections.
- Michael Houghton Elected President of The National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws07.01.2011
- Michael Houghton Quoted in Delaware Law Weekly: Provides Perspective on Delaware's Changes to Its Unclaimed Property Statute08.01.2010
- Article, 07.28.2010
Michael Houghton, Morris Nichols banking, regulatory and Commercial Law Counseling Group partner and Best Lawyers 2009 Banking Lawyer of the Year, and Commercial Law Counseling Group associate Brenda Mayrack, authored Delaware Makes Significant Changes to Its Unclaimed Property Statute, published in the July 28, 2010 issue (Vol. 25, No. 29) of BNA’s Corporate Counsel Weekly.
- â€˜McKesson’ Part II - State’s Response Offers Insight, Guidance To Holders Facing Audit for Inventory and Other Property TypesArticle, 12.30.2009
Morris Nichols banking, regulatory and commercial law counseling partner and Best Lawyers 2009 Banking Lawyer of the Year Michael Houghton, and Commercial Law Counseling Group associate Brenda Mayrack, authored â€˜McKesson’ Part II - State’s Response Offers Insight, Guidance To Holders Facing Audit for Inventory and Other Property Types, published in the December 30, 2009 issue (Vol. 24, No. 49) of BNA’s Corporate Counsel Weekly. Samuel Schaunaman, Esq. of Thomson Reuters co-authored.
- McKesson Corporation Lawsuit Challenges Delaware’s Assessment of Unclaimed Property Liability For Inventory MismatchesArticle, 11.04.2009
Morris Nichols banking, regulatory and commercial law counseling partner and Best Lawyers 2009 Banking Lawyer of the Year Michael Houghton, and Commercial Law Counseling Group associate Brenda Mayrack, authored McKesson Corporation Lawsuit Challenges Delaware’s Assessment of Unclaimed Property Liability For Inventory Mismatches published in the November 4, 2009 issue (Vol. 24, No. 42) of BNA’s Corporate Counsel Weekly. Samuel Schaunaman, Esq. of Thomson Reuters co-authored.
- The Expansion of the Delaware Court of Chancery's Jurisdiction to Adjudicate or Mediate Certain “Technology Disputes” - An Evolution, Not a RevolutionArticle, 04.01.2003
Michael Houghton, William M. Lafferty, Andrew H. Lippstone, “The Expansion of the Delaware Court of Chancery’s Jurisdiction to Adjudicate or Mediate Certain â€˜Technology Disputes’ - An Evolution, Not a Revolution,” ABA Network: The Newsletter of the Business Law Section, Committee on Business and Corporate Litigation, Vol. 11, Issue 1 (Spring 2003)
Professional & Civic
American Bar Association
Delaware Economic and Financial Advisory Council (Chair)
Delaware Public Policy Institute (Board Member)
Delaware State Bar Association (Past President)
Delaware State Chamber of Commerce (Counsel and former Board Member)
Pete du Pont Freedom Award Foundation (Board Member)
Uniform Law Commission (Past President, Drafting Committee to Revise the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act (Co-Chair), Executive Committee (President, 2012-2013, Chair, 2010-2011), Scope and Program Committee (Chair, 2008-2009; Vice President, 2006-2007), Legislative Committee (Chair, 2000-2005))
- Delaware Court of Chancery, 1982-1983
University of Virginia School of Law, JD, 1982
University of Virginia, BA, English/History (American Studies), with high distinction, 1978
- Delaware, 1982
- US District Court for the District of Delaware, 1983
- US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, 1985