Tag Archives: Canada needs legislation

Budget Talk: The $2 Billion Ontario doesn’t seem to want

Ontario is seeking budget input from Ontarians but there’s been no action so far on an old budget item now worth $2 Billion

There’s approximately $2 billion in Unclaimed Property that is sitting with various organizations across Ontario that needs to be returned to hard-working Ontarians. $2 Billion would also serve the Ontario budget in a big way now and in years to come.

Ontario is the largest jurisdiction in North America without an unclaimed property law to protect consumers. While Ontario was the first Canadian province to pass unclaimed property legislation in 1989 the statute was not proclaimed into force and the legislation was repealed 22 years later in 2011. The 2012 budget announced Ontario’s intention to try again and create an unclaimed property scheme that would mirror that of the US where legislation has been in force for over 50 years. And yet, there has been no follow-up from consultations that occurred in 2013.  Why  ?

We submitted an 8 page document advocating for the rights of Ontario residents for this legislation during consultations in 2013. We and jurisdictions around the world feel pretty passionately that Unclaimed Property is an important aspect of consumer protection that is missing in Ontario. The estimated $2 billion + in unclaimed/lost financial assets for Ontario comes in a variety of forms including unclaimed bank/trust/credit union accounts, insurance policies, share certificates, dividends, unclaimed wages, bonds, pensions and other property types including prepaid funeral deposits and utility deposits etc..

Unclaimed Ontario savings bonds alone total more than $65 Million.  

The Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario) has more than $3 Million in unclaimed trust accounts. No one knows what the total of Unclaimed accounts held by Ontario credit unions would total because for the last 20 years, Credit Unions have been waiting for further instructions.  Legislation would ensure that any organization in Ontario holding unclaimed or lost deposits or financial assets would transfer them to the Province and a comprehensive database would be available for Ontarians to look for those assets while the Province or a related agency would proactively look for legal owners.

Despite the fact that no ones loses track of their assets on purpose  and assets generally become lost as a result of a tragic event or forgetfulness, in Ontario there is no law that requires the holders of unclaimed financial assets to look for the asset owners. So no one including the Province is looking for you if your Great Aunt Martha purchased a life insurance policy for you or if your Grandma Shirley opened a credit union account for you when you were born. We would argue that`s not “very Canadian” .

Legislation would be a win/win for Ontario residents and the Province of Ontario as unclaimed financial assets are typically utilized by the government or jurisdiction that holds those accumulated assets until claimed. The USA has more than $58 Billion in Unclaimed financial assets being used in this way. Unclaimed assets are sadly becoming a larger part of the revenue for many states including most notably California and New York.
While facts are sparse given a lack of legislation across Canada (outside of Alberta and Quebec where legislation has been enacted), there has been an alarming increase in unclaimed financial assets in recent years. Given aging demographics and the digital world in which we live, that increase will probably rise significantly. So why is Canada and Ontario in particular so far behind other jurisdictions like the US, Australia, New Zealand, the UK etc?

More importantly, why is a cash strapped Ontario government not following up with Unclaimed Property legislation that they started re-discussing in 2012  ?

Does the government of Ontario really have too many other pressing priorities that might be as advantageous as Unclaimed Property Legislation both from a financial and consumer protection perspective  ?

It’s time for Ontario to catch up and do what is right for Ontario taxpayers/residents and their the Provincial treasury. Have your say during budget consultations with Ontario by linking to the Province of Ontario here   We have and we hope you will share this post with others if you agree with the need for Unclaimed Property Legislation in Ontario.

Lost bank accounts in Canada now top $626 Million

Another year, another alarming increase in Lost Bank accounts for Canadians

I am happy that the Bank of Canada this week, updated their website with the balance of unclaimed or lost bank accounts as at December 2015. Last year, I had to make 5 requests for the updated balance & the related database of individuals with balances owing to them as of December 2014. Only after I involved the CBC who without much hesitation did a program on the problem of Unclaimed financial assets in Canada did the Bank of Canada update the information on their site for the benefit of Canadians. I was thrilled about the CBC program that helped to shine a light on the problem of lost bank accounts and Unclaimed Financial Assets in general.  I was also quite relieved when the Bank finally updated their website in late April last year.

But while I’m happy about the prompt updating of lost bank account information for 2015; I`m disturbed by the increase again this year in the value of lost bank accounts last year.

Another $59 Million in lost bank accounts for 2015, making the overall balance owing to Canadians some $626 Million. 

That’s an increase of 10.2% which is similar to last year when $56 Million was added to the unclaimed bank account balance. Considering the population of Canada is some 36 million; the increase is substantial as it the total balance of $626 Million in lost bank accounts. Claimed amounts are dismal at $10-$11 Million for each of the last 2 years.

Check out the disturbing details of lost bank accounts that I have been obsessively passionately tracking for the past 8 or so years:

Too many lost Bank accounts are being held by the Bank of Canada

Too many lost bank accounts are being held by the Bank of Canada

Unclaimed Property Legislation for Canadians is an important aspect of consumer protection that’s missing for the majority of Canadians and advocacy for such legislation is a lonely battle despite the sheer magnitude of an estimated $6 – $7 Billion in Unclaimed assets in Canada. The Bank of Canada holds approximately $1 Billion between the $626 Million in Unclaimed or lost bank accounts and another $500 Million (+) in Unclaimed Canada Savings Bonds.  However, there’s an estimated $5 – $6 Billion or so in other Unclaimed financial assets that Canadians have misplaced like credit union accounts, trust accounts, insurance claims, pension funds, education funds, prepaid funeral deposits, savings bonds, shares/dividends etc.

It’s time Canada caught up to the US and the majority of other developed nations and provided citizens and taxpayers of Canada consumer protection in the form of Unclaimed Property Legislation. The US has had such legislation in place for more than 50+ years. Unclaimed Property legislation would ensure that all unclaimed financial assets are centrally held, reported on and most importantly, owners would have a better chance of being found.

It`s rather… UnCanadian not to have Unclaimed Property legislation in place for Canadians

No one loses track of their hard-earned financial assets on purpose. It’s generally the result of a tragic event or forgetfulness. It would ease the burden on executors that look for financial assets when an individual passes along. Reuniting legal owners with their financial assets would generate economic action. In cases where owners can not be found, unclaimed financial assets would supplement government treasuries that are cash strapped.  It’s a win/win for Consumers and Government to move forward with legislation. So why is Canada so far behind.

Please take a moment to look for your name or the name of your friends or family members using the updated Bank of Canada Unclaimed Balance data base

Bank of Canada Unclaimed Balance database

 

Unclaimed Credit Union accounts

$6 Billion in Unclaimed funds could spur a lot of economic action

The fact is: Canada is woefully behind when it comes to Unclaimed Financial Asset Legislation

Typically, Economic Action Plans that we are familiar with consist of infrastructure spending including roads and buildings costing millions in taxpayer money. But what about a different kind of economic action plan that would cost millions less but generate more than a billion of economic action?  This under the radar, economic action plan in waiting is about ensuring that each Province and Territory across Canada put into place comprehensive & consistent Unclaimed Intangible Property Legislation.

UP in EAP

Unclaimed funds could spur a lot of economic action

Connecting or reuniting Canadians with the hard-earned/unclaimed (often tax paid) financial assets that they are legally entitled to is the goal of Unclaimed Property Legislation. And yet, the majority of Canada (outside Alberta and Quebec) is way behind in putting such legislation in place which also makes it difficult to pinpoint the actual value of Unclaimed Financial assets currently in Canada. However, experts estimate the total value to be between $6-$7 Billion. That’s a lot of cash that too many governments across Canada (outside of Alberta & Quebec) are failing to gather up, safeguard and share information on for the benefit of Canadians. That’s way too much cash that too many governments across Canada are failing to capitalize on for their own budgets as they do in other countries like the US. In most US states, unclaimed financial assets are now a major help to state budgets. California is estimated to use some $400M annually for their state budget from unclaimed property that’s still available to legal owners should they be found.

The Bank of Canada alone has on deposit approximately  $1 Billion in the form ofUnclaimed Canadian $ Bank accounts (from federally chartered bank accounts only) and Unclaimed/Matured Canada Savings Bonds. Unfortunately, no one is looking for legal owners despite the fact that information would be readily available from government records.

Canada Savings bond

Canadians are owed more than $400M in Unclaimed CSB’s

Check out a Fast Fact sheet on Unclaimed Financial Assets for some of the alarming facts on amounts owed to hard working Canadians.

Let’s face it.

Nobody sets out to lose their financial assets on purpose & people generally work hard for their money. However, as we know far too well, people can become incapacitated or die quite suddenly or forget or move or not have the financial literacy skills required to ensure that their money is properly safeguarded for their own use or for their heirs down the road. That’s why most of the Western World like the US considers Unclaimed Property Legislation to be an important part of Consumer Protection Legislation. The US has had such legislation in place for more than 50 years & currently holds approximately $58 Billion in unclaimed assets. Yes. $58 Billion. The difference is that a lot of this $58 Billion in the United States can be found on individual State websites. State Treasuries proactively look for the legal owners of those funds while utilizing those funds to supplement state finances. Given that the problem of Financial assets is growing at an alarming rate, Canada is way overdue in ensuring that Unclaimed Property legislation is in place across the Country.  All Provinces and Territories need to get on board.

Unclaimed financial assets come in various forms:

  • Bank accounts/Credit Union accounts
  • Over payments made to businesses or deposits such as Utilities
  • Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends
  • Funds reserved (undeposited) certified cheques, drafts or money orders
  • GICs or Certificates of deposit
  • Pensions
  • Insurance policy proceeds, Insurance refunds and amounts payable resulting from Demutualizations of mutual insurance companies
  • Education Savings plans
  • Prepaid Funeral deposits
  • Tax refunds
  • Mineral interests and royalty payments, trust funds, and escrow accounts
  • Contents of Safety Deposit Boxes-which may include valuables and sentimental items
  • Uncashed payroll cheques
  • Unused Gift Card balances

It seems reasonable that ALL  Canadians deserve to have their financial assets safeguarded by Unclaimed Property Legislation. We think reuniting Canadians (or their heirs) with their own money is the right (and Canadian) thing to do. It’s good for everyone including the economy to get this money back to rightful owners and back into circulation.

If you believe more Canadian jurisdictions should put consumer protection in place by way of Unclaimed Property legislation, please pass this post along and speak with both your MPP and your MP about the issue. As always, feel free to contact us for more information. As one of the few advocates for Unclaimed Property legislation in Canada we would be pleased to offer more information and to receive your help in shining a light on this issue.

Given the alarming value of Unclaimed financial assets in the US ($58Billion+) despite the existence of  Unclaimed Property legislation, we know that legislation is only part of the solution to reducing the risk of assets becoming lost or unclaimed. That’s why we’ve built a simple, secure solution that helps individuals and families better organize their important information in order to:

  • Engage more proactively in financial/estate planning
  • Enhance their level of emergency preparedness and
  • Help reduce the risk of hard-earned financial assets from being lost or forgotten

Get in touch with us anytime to learn more about the need for Unclaimed property legislation or LegacyTracker.

Canada’s own sunken treasure

A ship missing for 310 years was found off the coast of Colombia in the Gulf of Mexico  this past week carrying gold and jewels worth $17 US billion. It’s been called the “Holy Grail” of sunken treasures.

That’s all really exciting but the recovery will be difficult and already a bitter battle has arisen over what may be the world’s largest sunken treasure between Columbia, Spain and a US salvage company. The Columbian government is currently treating the wreck as a state secret to avoid further plundering.

While it’s hardly a State secret, sunken treasure in Canada does exist in the form of unclaimed property or unclaimed financial assets owned by hard-working Canadians. Yet, it’s barely easier to find and doesn’t get barely the attention it deserves.

There’s a Billion dollars in unclaimed property in the Bank of Canada between lost bank accounts and matured/unclaimed Canada Savings Bonds and no one is looking for the legal owners of that treasure despite the information naturally at the disposal of such a worthy crown corporation as the Bank of Canada.  While there’s a listing that is updated annually on the Bank of Canada website for unclaimed bank accounts, take note that those bank accounts are only accounts that have had no activity for 10 years and don’t include accounts in foreign currency.

More unfortunately, very sadly and for some unknown reason, no listing of owners exists for the $500+ Million in Unclaimed Canada Savings bonds.  Whereas the same can not be said for unclaimed bank accounts, Canada Savings Bonds can only be registered by individuals living in Canada so the entirety of this sunken treasure belongs to Canadian individuals and families.  It certainly seems “UnCanadian” for the Bank of Canada to 1) not look for those individuals considering that they have their SIN numbers at hand 2) allow Canadians to more easily find their hard-earned savings bonds.

There’s a multitude of other forms of unclaimed financial assets in Canada that make up sunken treasure in Canada. The estimated total of unclaimed financial assets in Canada total $6 Billion plus. That treasure is more difficult to find outside of the provinces of Alberta and Quebec where unclaimed property legislation actually exists (BC has voluntary unclaimed property legislation).

Generally, Canada is woefully behind in ensuring that consumer protection in the form of Unclaimed Property Legislation exists for all Canadians. The US and other countries around the world have had such legislation in place for 50+ years You can find a partial list of some of the other sunken treasure in Canada on our website as well as some of the places you can search http://legacytracker.com/facts/unclaimed-in-canada/

 Good Luck

64 Billion reasons to get your ducks in a row

Are your ducks in a row?

We think $58 Billion in unclaimed or misplaced financial assets in the US + $4-$6 Billion in Canada are pretty good reasons to get financially organized. These financial assets were no doubt hard-earned. A good majority of these assets may also be tax paid. $64 Billion or so waiting to be claimed by the individual that lost track or the legal beneficiaries of those assets; It’s a lot of money that could make a really BIG difference to many families and loved ones.

Unclaimed financial assets come in a variety of forms:

  • Bank or Credit Union accounts
  • Stocks/Bonds
  • Uncashed dividends
  • Utility deposits or refunds
  • Other prepaids, deposits or refunds
  • Trust distributions
  • Inheritances
  • Annuities/Pensions
  • Education funds
  • Prepaid funeral contracts
  • Mineral royalties such as oil, gas, or mining
  • Insurance policy claims/refunds
  • Contents of abandoned safe-deposit boxes

Unclaimed financial assets reside in a variety of places:

  • Banks, Credit Unions and Trust Companies
  • Insurance Companies
  • Share Transfer Agents
  • Pension Funds
  • Trust monies held by lawyers or real estate companies
  • Utilities
  • Funeral Homes
  • Investment management companies
  • Retailers (Gift Cards/Credits)
  • Government treasuries or agencies

While held initially by a variety of ‘holder’ organizations or institutions, unclaimed assets residing in the US or 3 of the Provinces in Canada with Unclaimed Property legislation in place will, after a set period of time, be forwarded to the State/Provincial or Federal treasury. Those assets will be safeguarded and reported into an online search base where hopefully the legal owners or heirs will find those assets and make a claim. Many US jurisdictions are very proactive about looking for owners.For example, many State treasury departments will engage in outreach activities at baseball games, summer fairs and shopping malls with the specific purpose being to find unclaimed money for visitors. It is common place in most US states to publish the entire database in the local paper, once or twice a year.

The US estimates that 1 in 10 Americans has unclaimed funds belonging to them

The US knows a lot about Unclaimed or lost financial assets because they have kept really good records over the 50+ years or so that they have had such legislation in place.The same can not be said for Canada despite how socially progressive Canada might be in many other areas.

Only 2 provinces in Canada (Alberta and Quebec) have comprehensive unclaimed property legislation in place and provide searchable databases. BC has a voluntary, less comprehensive system in place

The Bank of Canada has over $1 Billion in Unclaimed Money

The Bank of Canada on its own has over $1 Billion in Unclaimed financial assets in the form of Unclaimed bank accounts and Unclaimed/Matured Canada Savings Bonds. While there is a searchable database available online for unclaimed bank accounts which total over $532 Million, there is no such database for Unclaimed but matured Canada Savings Bonds which total over $500 Million. No one from the Bank of Canada s looking for those legal owners. We know because we asked.

Bank of CanadaThe amount of unclaimed financial assets is a staggering amount and so too is the rate of increase of financial assets becoming lost or unclaimed. The Unclaimed Bank account balance with the Bank of Canada increased by a net amount of $36 Million in 2013 or 7.3% making for a 5 year (net) increase of $181 Million. The value of unclaimed but matured Canada Savings Bonds increased $105 Million in the year ending April 2013.

 

Please get your ducks in a row

These alarming increases in unclaimed financial assets in combination with in Canada, a lack of comprehensive unclaimed property legislation for a majority of hard-working Canadians and their families should be sufficient evidence of the need to safeguard and protect information relating to financial assets appropriately. No one will safeguard your information as well as You can.

Helping with that challenge, is one of the core missions behind LegacyTracker.

 

How hard do insurers work to find life insurance beneficiaries ?

How hard do Insurers look for life insurance beneficiaries ?

Governments around the world are starting to take a proactive role in helping life insurance beneficiaries find the policies they are entitled to.

Unclaimed life insurance polices are a problem I’ve worried about for years and were a major impetus for developing LegacyTracker

Last November, France’s financial sector regulator fined CNP Assurances 40 million euros ($50 million) for failing to do enough to find the beneficiaries of deceased life insurance policyholders. They characterized CNP’s efforts as being highly insufficient . CNP who is the largest insurer in France (17% market share),  responded by saying that they really always intended to pay all those unclaimed policies.

In their press release after the news of their fine was released CNP also indicated that it has never derived any profit from unclaimed settlements…”income earned on unclaimed funds had been added to the sum used to pay all policyholders” As an accountant, I’m a bit puzzled by that statement but…onwards.

Since 2007, life insurers in France have had a legal obligation to try to find life insurance beneficiaries of unclaimed policies after a holder’s death.

Prior to 2007,  it was up to the heirs to claim the funds . That’s how it currently stands in Canada but this presumes that those beneficiaries or heirs know about a life insurance policy.  The Cour des Comptes public audit office in France indicated in a report last year that life insurers have been very slow living up to their obligations to find heirs since the 2007 law was enacted and estimated that unclaimed life policies might be worth at least 2.76 Billion. 

More info on the CNP story can be found here 

So, What about Canadian Life Insurance Beneficiaries ?

The majority of the western world has Unclaimed Property legislation in place which includes unclaimed life insurance policies.  However, only Alberta, Quebec and to a certain extent, British Columbia have Unclaimed Property legislation in place in Canada. In recent years, governments have really ‘zoned in” on the Win/Win Opportunity that such legislation provides to residents and their own treasuries.  There has been a gradual shift to tighten up the rules around what assets are included in such legislation. An example would be the inclusion of Gift Cards in certain states like New York and New Jersey. And, as is the case in the US, Governments are ensuring that life insurers work diligently to identify unclaimed life insurance policies based on death (“The DMF or Death Master File ) In recent years, a national multi state audit project has been underway which has so far resulted in the return of more than $2.7 Billion to beneficiaries and/or State Treasuries. Auditors actually determined that  insurers were using the ‘DMF” to stop annuity payments to deceased policy owners but not using the same files to find beneficiaries and to designate the policies as “unclaimed” Sun Life of Canada settled Unclaimed Property complaints with State Insurance regulators in November 2014 for $3.2 Million

Only 34% of Canadians have consumer protection in place in the form of Unclaimed Property legislation 

As well, the rules around life insurance policies in most jurisdictions in Canada do NOT include an obligation by the insurer to look for beneficiaries.

Each week I receive approximately 2-3 emails from folks that are looking for some guidance around finding possible life insurance policies. There’s not much I can offer to them outside of what I’ve already offered in earlier posts like this one which also included a  summary of the changes in the life insurance landscape over the years..another reason why finding a lost life insurance policy is made difficult,…another reason why legislation is needed and another reason why it’s important to safeguard & share important information about life insurance policies with loved ones and beneficiaries

Lost Insurance Policies can cause additional grief for loved ones

Ever changing insurance market

 

Unclaimed Credit Union accounts

Unclaimed Credit Union Accounts in Ontario

Inaction is a disadvantage for Credit Unions in Ontario

There’s so much to love about Credit Unions but when it comes to providing Credit Unions an equal playing field in Ontario, I can’t help but feel that the Ministry of Finance is putting them at a disadvantage by their inaction. The inaction I’m referring to relates to their apparent disregard for Unclaimed or Dormant credit union accounts.  This inaction & disregard is not helpful to Credit Unions and it’s certainly not helpful to the client/members those Credit Unions serve.

Unclaimed Credit Union accounts can be hard to find

Unlike Unclaimed accounts held by federally regulated banks, Unclaimed Credit Union accounts in Ontario are hard to find unless you know the exact Credit Union you or a loved one dealt with.  Federally regulated banks are required to remit unclaimed accounts that have not been active for 10+ years to the Bank of Canada where a searchable online database is available; that database currently includes $532 Million of such accounts. What would be the total value of Unclaimed Credit Union accounts in Ontario ? I’m pretty sure that no one inside the Ministry of Finance or outside has any clue. And that’s the problem.

The Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 1994 (20 years later)

One might assume that a similar system would be in place for unclaimed credit union accounts held in Ontario as there is for accounts held by federally regulated banks in Ontario. It’s 2014 after all and the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 1994 set out the guidelines for Unclaimed or dormant accounts in that legislation. But…

Alas…that’s not the case. While the Ministry of Finance expects that Credit Unions are following the rules around notifications to dormant or unclaimed account holders, they have not yet gone as far as having those Credit Unions remit those accounts to the Ministry as intended.

Why?

Why has it taken 20 years to direct Ontario Credit Unions to where they need to send all of those unclaimed credit union accounts that have been forgotten?

I’ve asked the Ministry of Finance again recently this question. After much delay the Ministry responded but failed to answer that very question.

Here’s their reply

  • The government recognizes the importance of ensuring that individuals who hold dormant deposit accounts at credit unions are aware of the status of their accounts and have access to the funds held in those accounts.
  • The Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 1994 requires that credit unions provide notices to depositors whose accounts are dormant at regular intervals. For example, depositors must be notified 2 years and 5 years after a transaction has last taken place in the account or since the depositor last requested or acknowledged an account statement.
  • We understand that credit unions have systems in place to ensure unclaimed deposits are properly monitored and that depositors are informed.  If an account is dormant for more than 10 years, credit unions are required to remit the amount to the Minister of Finance when directed to do so.
  • The Minister of Finance has not yet specified a date when the funds should be remitted to the government

We hope you will find the information provided useful.

Sadly, No. The information provided by the Ministry of Finance recently is not very helpful; not very helpful at all. And, most certainly, the inaction on the part of the Ministry of Finance with regards to Unclaimed Credit Union accounts is generally not helpful to Ontario Credit Unions or their members.

Let’s be clear: No one loses their hard earned/tax paid financial assets on purpose.

Ontario credit union members deserve to have one place to search & find their Unclaimed Credit Union accounts. Let’s get it done Ontario.

How hard do insurers work to find life insurance beneficiaries ?

Lost Insurance policies cause additional grief

Providing life insurance to your loved ones is great but lost insurance policies cause additional heartache

It happens all too often.  Insurance documentation from years ago may have been misplaced or lost causing heartache or difficulty for you, a loved or an executor.To make matters worse, tracking down an insurance policy is made more difficult by the number of changes that have taken place in the Canadian Insurance industry over the years. A multitude of mergers, takeovers & name changes has occurred and will continue to occur.

Here’s a list of many of the Insurance company mergers and name changes that best emphasizes that point:

Ever changing insurance market

 

Looking in the usual places for policy information makes sense like safety deposit boxes or filing cabinets. Contacting known professional advisors (beyond just an insurance agent) is a good thing to do in case they have copies of such documents. Employers or previous employers as well as pension administrators or membership directors of professional associations would be aware of group policies that often times individuals don’t think to make note of. The same would apply to any insurance that an individual might have purchased by way of their credit card issuer.

Beyond that…If you need some assistance in tracking down a life insurance policy, the OmbudService  for Life & Health Insurance (OLHI) may be able to assist. The OLHI is a national independent complaint resolution and information service for consumers of Canadian life and health insurance products and services, including life, disability, employee health benefits, travel, and insurance investment products such as annuities and segregated funds.

Safeguarding insurance information & documentation is key but sharing that information with beneficiaries and loved ones is also critical. There is no obligation on the part of insurers to come looking for beneficiaries at any point.

Experts estimate that some 20-30% of insurance policies go unclaimed.

Billion dollar lawsuits are still ongoing in the US where each state requires unclaimed policies to be transferred to the state for safekeeping and inclusion in their open database of unclaimed financial assets. That’s an essential part of Unclaimed Property Legislation that only 2 provinces enjoy currently in Canada.

The OLHI may be of some help but before a policy search for possible insurance coverage on a deceased’s life can take place, 2 requirements must exist:

  1. There must be a reasonable basis for a search-basic evidence must exist to support the fact that some unlocated coverage does exist.
  2. Specific factual data about the deceased must be made available.

This kind of search will not uncover contracts acquired outside of Canada, nor will it uncover coverage obtained under employer group contracts. We understand that approximately 22% of those who have requested a search for a lost life insurance policy via the OLHI have found one.

The OLHI also provides tips for conducting your own search. However, it’s really unfortunate that unlike many other developed countries, the majority of Canada does not have Unclaimed Property Legislation in place which would also provide an online searchable database.

Our good friend Michael Hartmann has been a life insurance agent for over 10 years and recognized the problem of lost insurance policies over 6 years ago when his own father did without sharing all of the information on his policies. Michael went to work and established http://www.findyourpolicy.com .

FindYourPolicy offers a secure online insurance registry where insurance policy information can be secured for free.  The charge for searching is less than $20. Michael indicates that the average insurance policy is approximately $120,000.

Spending hard-earned after tax income on an insurance policy for the benefit of someone you care about makes safeguarding & sharing your policy information a worthy ToDo. No one can secure this information as well as you can. Please do it.

Our LegacyTracker financial organizing tool provides the ability to organize, safeguard and share your important information and documents like life insurance policies, with loved ones or beneficiaries, executors or advisors.

Spur some economic action

Unclaimed funds could spur economic action

A Billion dollars in Unclaimed Funds would make for a nice Economic Action Plan in Canada

Let’s not promote youth working for free…Let’s put the $1 Billion in Unclaimed financial assets that the Bank of Canada is sitting on to work to spur economic action

While it’s great that Governor Poloz recognizes the problem of youth unemployment it’s concerning that the best idea that he seems to have for the estimated 200,000 jobless or under-employed youth is to advise them to work for free. I’m the first to support the value in volunteering but he has gone further than that & supported unpaid internships…so I must disagree.

It seems an insensitive and unsympathetic solution to the problem of thousands of youth many with undergraduate and/or advanced degrees to take unpaid internships. He seems to suggest that it’s ok to subvert “minimum-wage” laws and most specifically to ignore the fact that unless those unpaid internships are part of a college or university program, such positions are actually illegal in certain jurisdictions in Canada like Ontario where he lives and works

Unpaid internships unrelated to academic study devalue the skills and abilities of youth. There’s a more obvious problem as well. How many jobless youth can afford to “donate” their efforts without pay especially those without the advantage of parents who can carry them or those youth who have high student debt loads ?

Unpaid internships may work for the privileged few but let’s be honest…many of those internships are exploitive. They are too often used by employers taking advantage of a tight job market with little or no training in return for free labour and a bump to their bottom line

Unpaid internships are not the answer Governor Poloz is are seeking. But here are some suggestions :

*Gather real input about the kinds of well-trained, younger workers Canada needs to grow our economy.
*Support youth entrepreneurship which should start in high school and include financial literacy education
*It’s 2014. Put technology to work to do a better job of matching required skills and jobs in the short and long term future against current education & training programs. Most successful businesses have 3-10 year plans. Please ask them about those plans. Isn’t Stats Canada in-taking a lot of this information already? If we did a better job of this and if educators were required to listen, perhaps we would not have for example a 7 year waiting list of fresh, young, highly skilled teachers looking for part time or full time positions while at the same time, growing this waiting list each year.
*Unleash the $1 Billion in unclaimed financial assets currently being held by the Bank of Canada in the form of unclaimed bank accounts and savings bonds and spur some real economic action. It’s Canada’s “under the radar, Economic Action Plan in Waiting” that no one talks about
*At the very least hire an unemployed youth or 2 (as I suggested to you earlier this year) to build a searchable database so Canadians can locate $420 Million in unclaimed Canada Savings Bonds that lie buried in the Bank of Canada and promote the searchable database that includes $532 Million in unclaimed bank accounts that does exist.

Let’s not promote youth working for free…Let’s put $1 Billion in Unclaimed financial assets that the Bank of Canada is sitting on to work.

Roosevelt on whining

We’re not whining because we’ve developed an unclaimed asset solution

We think Theodore Roosevelt would approve.

The 26th President of the United States was known for his exuberant personality, a long list of achievements and for his leadership, strength and charisma. Despite his sickly childhood, Theodore Roosevelt Jr. embraced a strenuous life & inspired many.  It’s said that he lived his life by the motto “Be awesome or die trying” We’re not sure if that’s true but he did have a low or zero tolerance for whining.

We`re not (technically) whining when we speak of the challenges in the financial services market these days for both consumers and the professionals they deal with

A famous quote attributed to Theodore Roosevelt reminds us of the mission behind our online web solution, LegacyTracker. We may complain about the growing and global problem of Unclaimed Financial Assets & the need in Canada in particular for legislation. But…we’ve also developed a technology solution to help reduce the problem.

We may complain about the need for individuals and families to be more proactive about financial and estate planning…but our solution can help with that too.

So technically speaking…we`re not whining.

LegacyTracker

LegacyTracker helps individuals and their families simplify, safeguard and share their important financial, legal and estate information.

LegacyTracker helps users become more empowered with their own information in order for them to become proactive about their finances and we think that will also make them more open to (and engaged in) working with professional financial and estate advisors.

Connect with us for more info.

 

 

Bitcoin - a headache for Estate Planners

Bitcoin – Virtual currency & new headache for estate planning

As if dealing with digital assets from an estate planning perspective was not difficult enough…now there is Bitcoin.

Bitcoin and other virtual currencies are creating  interesting and unique challenges for Estate lawyers and owners who are giving consideration to their estate plans (not to mention the future challenges for those that are not)

Fortunately, bitcoin was given due consideration in the new Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (FADAA) which specifies that `digital assets include digital currency and similar products currently in existence and yet to be invented. This Act is good news if you live in the US and your State takes the opportunity to use the Uniform Act as their legislation. The Act allows a representative or fiduciary to deal with digital assets in a similar way as they would for financial or physical assets. It shields those representatives from any inadvertent liability. Thus far there is no such progress on such legislation in Canada as far as we know.

As for some of the other issues surrounding Bitcoin, there`s a good summary from Bloomberg BNA which you can find here or as a download here: Bitcoin is creating new headaches for Estate Planners as a download

 

Estate Planning for Digital Assets

UFADAA makes estate planning for digital assets a little easier

Thanks to the Uniform Law Commission, (an US National Non profit/Non partisan organization that supplies “ready to go” legislation) comprehensive provisions are now available relating to Digital Assets.  That should help make estate planning for digital assets a little easier going forward if it’s utilized by individuals US states.

The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (UFADAA) makes legislating digital inheritances easier and can alleviate the burden and the heartbreak that can come when families are unable to access simple things like digital photos or messages from loved ones that have passed away. The purpose of UFADAA is to vest fiduciaries (executors, guardians, agents powers of attorneys etc.) with the authority to access, control, or copy digital assets, while respecting the privacy and intent of the account holder.

The Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act solves the problem using the concept of “media neutrality.”  If a fiduciary would have access to a tangible asset, that fiduciary will also have access to a similar type of digital asset.  

The State of Delaware has taken the lead already and became the first US State to enact such legislation by enacting the Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets and Digital Accounts Act this past week. It gives the account holder the power to decide what happens to his or her digital assets in the same way they do for physical or financial assets. At present, that power lies with the tech and media companies in control of the assets. 

There is hope that all 50 states will adopt the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act so that access to content will be honoured in the way that the user would wish. The Act can be referenced here :  UFADAA-7-17-2014

In the meantime, Google does provide a tool to help users deal with the problem which they have called Inactive Account Manager . You can also keep up to date with any progress or changes by way of a blog we discovered authored by well-known US estate planning lawyer James D. Lamm. His blog is called digitalpassing.com

Unfortunately, it seems there is no such update on What Canada is doing on this subject (Sorry).

$400M+ in Lost Canada Savings Bonds is a lot of cash

There’s a staggering $400 Million + in matured but Unredeemed Canada Savings Bonds.

AND..

$400 Million in Lost or Unclaimed Canada Savings Bonds is a lot of hard-earned cash that could make a difference to many. 

And while it seems, a little UnCanadian, no one is looking for you or for your family member that may own one of these bonds. No one. That’s why it’s worth checking for yourself or for the sake of a loved one or friend.

If you think you or a family member has lost a Canada Savings bond (CSB) along the way…here’s some helpful info. if you are not sure if you or a family member has lost a CSB, I would urge you to call anyways as there is no downside, because NO ONE in the Bank of Canada is looking for owners of these Lost bonds. I can’t determine why lost Canada Savings Bonds are not listed on the Bank of Canada website alongside lost bank accounts. It’s a really BIG mystery.

However, given that T5s have been issued for the interest that these bonds have earned (which also remains unclaimed) AND the fact that tax returns have been filed by the legal owners or returns have been re-assessed on behalf of these owners, it should follow, that many of these owners could be tracked down. However, that’s not the case (the looking). We’ve volunteered to list lost CSB’s here on this website; we await a response

In any case, here’s some info on searching for lost Canada Savings Bonds

  • Gather up any info you have like Certificate Serial #, Customer ID, address at the time of purchase and the exact name that the bond would have been issued on behalf of
  • If the bond has been stolen; you should report it to police. CSB customer service will ask you for a Police report #
  • If the bond holder/owner is under 18, the parent or legal guardian must contact customer service. You may be requested to provide proof that you are the parent or legal guardian
  • If you are calling on behalf of someone unable to make the call; have them present if possible.
  • If you are calling on behalf of an estate or an individual that has been incapacitated, you will be asked to provide a certified or notarized true copy of any document that is required to provide proof of your authorization to act on their behalf (Like a Will or Power of Attorney or an Estate Transfer form)
  • If there are 2 owners listed on the bond; both bond holders must speak with Customer service
  • Make the Call-Contact info provided below

Need more info? Read more here

Contact Info

Phone – 1 800 575 5151
Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (ET)
905 754-2012 (Outside North America)
Facsimile  613 782-8096

Email
For general inquiries only (Link for instructions)
csb@csb.gc.ca

Mail
Canada Savings Bonds
P.O. Box 2770, Station D
Ottawa, ON K1P 1J7

Delivery Address
Canada Savings Bonds
50 O’Connor Street, Suite 201
Ottawa, ON K1P 6L2

UNCLAIMED ACCOUNTS BANK OF CANADA

What’s not included in $532M in Unclaimed Accounts at the Bank of Canada

$532 Million in Unclaimed accounts held by the Bank of Canada is a very BIG balance

It’s a very BIG balance & yet it doesn’t include a lot of other financial assets that you might think are included like:

  • Bank balances from Non-Federally regulated financial institutions like Credit Unions
  • Bank balances not held in Canadian Currency like accounts held in USD (strange?)
  • Bank balances that have had no activity for 1-9 years or more (must be 10+ years)
  • Safety deposit boxes (We’re still trying to find out what happens to unclaimed safety deposit boxes)
  • Gold/Silver Certificates
  • RRSP accounts or Retirement savings accounts
  • Prepaid funeral contracts
  • Stock, Dividends, Securities or Life insurance polices/claims
  • Unclaimed amounts held by other institutions or organizations like prepaid funeral contracts or utility deposits

Wouldn’t it be nice to look in 1-2 places like residents of the US are able to do? That’s one of the many benefits of having Unclaimed property legislation in place.

 

 

 

Canada needs Unclaimed Property Legislation

Shining some Light on our very Canadian Problem

Grateful thanks to Ross Martowits of Canadian Press for Shining some much-needed light on our very Canadian Problem or as I refer to it…Canada’s Economic Plan in waiting. Ross took the time to speak with us this week and his article ran today in many papers across the Country today.

I refer to the need for Unclaimed Property Legislation in Canada as a very Canadian problem because in most parts of the developed world such legislation exists and it has for many years like in the US, most of the UK, Australia, New Zealand, etc. Kenya has legislation…but only in 2 provinces in Canada does any sort of comprehensive or consistent legislation exist (Alberta and Quebec) Canada needs Unclaimed Property Legislation in every Province – it should be considered an important part of Consumer Protection Legislation as it is in other Countries.

We’re on a mission to shed light on the problem while completing development of an online solution for individuals to use in order that they can securely and simply document their important financial & legal information

You can read the article as published by the Toronto Star online here or we’ve copied it here

 

MONTREAL—Millions of Canadians unknowingly have billions of dollars worth of their money and assets being held by companies and government agencies, available for recovery.

The Bank of Canada alone is holding nearly $1 billion from bank accounts and Canada Savings Bonds, but experts estimate unclaimed assets across the country could top $4 billion to $7 billion.

Canada is way behind other developed countries in having comprehensive unclaimed property legislation for all its residents, says accountant Brenda Potter Phelan.

“A country so progressive, so socially minded as Canada I find it hard to stomach that we don’t have some safeguards. In the U.S. and around the world they find this a main part of consumer protection,” she said from Cambridge, Ont., where she runs a website and blog called Legacy Tracker.

Quebec and Alberta are the only provinces with comprehensive laws, while British Columbia has a voluntary system. But Ontario is studying the adoption of its own system that could shine the light on a large treasure of unclaimed assets, including insurance policies, stocks and pensions.

In Canada, the total value of unclaimed assets is unknown but experts believe the numbers are staggering and growing.

The Bank of Canada’s unclaimed accounts grew 52 per cent over five years to reach $532 million as of December, with 93 per cent of accounts worth less than $1,000. The bank returned only $14 million to owners last year.

Non-redeemed Canada Savings Bonds and Canada Premium Bonds totalled $391 million as of March 31. The Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada holds some $18 million.

Quebec has about $300 million of unclaimed financial and other assets, while B.C. and Alberta have tens of millions each.

Online searches can be conducted in each of those provinces and with the Office of Superintendent of Bankruptcy, but all Canadians can look at the Bank of Canada website.

Searches conducted during research for this story identified more than $10,000 of unclaimed financial assets for family and friends.

“I am very surprised,” Syma Shaffer said when told about the discovery of nearly $1,400 from a Montreal bank account closed in 1991.

Federally regulated banks are required to hand over unclaimed deposit accounts, term deposits & GICs and negotiable items such as drafts, money orders and certified cheques to the central bank after a decade of trying to notify the owner.

Excluded are non-Canadian currency accounts, RRSPs, credit union balances, gold or silver certificates, safety deposit boxes, insurance payments, court payments, stocks and dividends, wages and real estate deposits, most of which are covered by provincial legislation.

The largest single unclaimed account totalling $552,000 was transferred from a Royal Bank branch in Montreal. Its owner, Manuel Vinhas, had two dormant accounts worth nearly $677,000.

The bank wouldn’t comment on specific cases, citing privacy issues.

Greg Crone was elated when informed he had more than $6,600 of assets being held, likely from a deposit related to a 2003 car purchase.

But the Ontario resident couldn’t understand how RBC was unable to locate him after a move to another city since he has the same bank account.

“It’s pretty shocking. When they want to find you because you’re late on a payment or something they have no trouble finding you,” he said in an interview.

Experts say it’s not uncommon for people to lose track of their assets, forgetting old bank accounts or paid up life insurance policies. People often move without forwarding their mail for more than a year and many people die without their heirs knowing much about their finances.

“Some people live quite private lives and they die unexpectedly and people don’t even know to look,” said Darren Jack, chairman of a task force for the Unclaimed Property Professionals Organization.