When should gift certificates expire?

In many states gift certificates can NEVER expire. In most other states, even if they expire (say, after seven years), it only means that the owner of the certificate has temporarily abandoned the value, and it must be turned over to the state treasurer until the owner claims it. Approximately $8 billion goes abandoned this way in the USA every year.

The unclaimed and unused gift certificate money NEVER becomes the property of the merchant; it is held in trust for the recipient of the gift certificate. Embezzling abandoned funds could be a felony.