Unclaimed Bank Accounts
In a recent article from The Toronto Star, entitled ‘Canadians have billions in unclaimed money. Here’s how to find out if you’re one of them,’ they report that Canadians may have between $4 - $7 billion in unclaimed assets across the country. For me, it raises the questions of how this number has grown so large, and what are some steps we can take to ensure you do not have any assets of your own go missing?
In the article they are largely referring to unclaimed bank accounts, Canada Savings Bonds, term deposits, and GICs. One of the major reasons for these unclaimed assets is that it is not uncommon, with our aging population, for people to lose track of their investments or bank accounts. Also, in some cases, people have died and their executors do not know how to find all of their assets.
An excellent way to ensure none of your assets go missing is to create an ‘Estate Directory’. This is a document you can prepare that lists everything your executor(s) will need to know when settling your estate. You can itemize bank accounts, investments, life insurance, and contact information of key professionals (like your accountant, lawyer and financial advisor). It is a way to catalogue your assets and any other pertinent information, all in one place, so nothing slips through the cracks. An estate directory would also be very helpful for the people you have named as your Power of Attorney (POA). If there ever is a time when someone else is looking after your financial affairs, it would be very easy to provide them with a listing of all your assets, rather than have them piece everything together on their own.
Here is a link to the estate directory we generally supply to clients called the Personal Record Keeper created by Dynamic Funds Inc. I highly recommend filling this out, and making sure your executor(s) and POA(s) know how to find it.
Also, as another exercise, here is a link to the Bank of Canada’s web site where you can search to see if you, or possibly a deceased family member, have an unclaimed bank account (click here).
Please stay organized, and best of luck with your search!
Andrew & Peter