Tag Archives: Canada needs legislation

Spur some economic action

Canada’s (under the radar) Economic Action Plan in waiting

Before you roll your eyes again at the thought of another Economic Action Plan Commercial please bear with me as this is just a (repeated) Request for another Economic Action Plan that all Canadians really should care about.

Economic Action Plans in Canada were implemented first during the global recession in 2009. The intent was to spur Economic growth & to support families and communities. So in that way, certainly the Economic Action Plan I have in mind would do just that in a BIG & meaningful way. However, unlike the typical Economic Action Plan that we are familiar with, this one should cost millions less but generate more than a billion of economic action as it’s all about ensuring that each Province and Territory across Canada put into place comprehensive & consistent Unclaimed Intangible Property Legislation.

Let’s connect (reunite) Canadians with the hard-earned/unclaimed (often tax paid) financial assets that they are legally entitled to. Most of Canada is so far behind in putting into place such legislation that it makes it difficult to pinpoint the actual value of Unclaimed Financial assets currently. But those of us who talk about this matter (and there’s only a few of us) estimate that there’s  $5-6 Billion or so that all Governments across Canada (outside of Alberta & Quebec) are failing to gather up, safeguard and share information on for the benefit of the majority of our population.

Yes. It’s a lot of money. The Bank of Canada alone has on deposit approximately  $1 Billion in the form of Unclaimed Canadian $ Bank accounts (from federally chartered bank accounts only) and Unclaimed/Matured Canada Savings Bonds. Check out our Fast Fact sheet on Unclaimed Financial Assets for some of the info that we have gathered on this journey.

Let’s face it. 

Nobody sets out to lose their financial assets on purpose & people generally work hard for their money. but, 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. Given that the problem of Financial assets is growing at an alarming rate it’s time (overdue) Canada and the provinces all got on board.

There’s lot of info on this blog about the need for Unclaimed Property Legislation. We’re pretty obsessive passionate about this problem, so you can find out more information about Unclaimed Funds by reading some of our prior posts. This one provides information on the status of Unclaimed Property legislation across Canada; What’s Up with Unclaimed Property (UP) in Canada? 

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 Demutalizations 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

As the fast growing US balance of Unclaimed Financial provides evidence of, legislation alone will not solve the problem of hard-working citizens losing track of their financial assets. We’ve also built a simple, secure solution that helps individuals and families better organize their important information in order to 1) Engage more proactively in financial/estate planning,   2) Enhance their level of emergency preparedness and 3) to help safeguard hard-earned financial assets from being lost or forgotten. We’d love to talk to you about that especially if you are financial services provider who can see the benefit of providing it to your clients and prospects for mutual benefit. A Win/Win.

But we also think 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 thing to do. It’s good for everyone including the economy to get this money back to rightful owners and back into circulation. We’d love to know what you think on a very simple poll that follows. And…we wish you and your family a safe and Happy Canada Day. We have much to be thankful for in this great Country.

 

Canadian Credit Unions Rock

What’s Up with Unclaimed property (UP) in Canada?

There is a flurry of activity around the world with unclaimed property laws but in Canada…such change seems slower than slow and long overdue. Only 2 Provinces have any sort of comprehensive legislation relating to Unclaimed Financial Assets (AKA “Lost Assets” No one loses their Hard earned (and often tax paid) Financial Assets on purpose so..why is Consumer Protection in the form of Unclaimed Intangible Property Legislation not in place across all Provinces & Territories.

Here’s what is and what is not happening in Canada. 

But some history and some background on UUIPA (?) first:

Back in 2003, The Uniform Law Conference of Canada (ULCC) developed a Uniform Unclaimed Intangible Property Act (UUIPA)

The Act outlined some guidelines/rules for the benefit of Canadian jurisdictions which could be followed; making the process of actually implementing a program a lot easier (!) These rules as outlined, mirrored to a great extent, what has been in place for 50+ years in the US.

The UUIPA specified guidance/rules relating to the following
• Each enacting province or territory would be entitled to receive unclaimed intangible property if the property belongs to an owner whose last known address as shown on the holder’s records is in that province or territory
• Provisions around owner notification process by holders,
• Property would be remitted after a statutorily defined period of time and
• Provisions for a public registry of unclaimed property to be established.

As written, the UUIPA applies to credit balances, shares, cash, bonds, amounts due and payable under insurance policies, trust funds, distributions from retirement or pension plans, gift certificates, etc. The dormancy periods are generally 3-5 years depending upon the property type.

Read more about UUIPA at http://www.ulcc.ca/en/uniform-acts-en-gb-1/545-unclaimed-intangible-property-act/1114-unclaimed-intangible-property-act

Sadly, despite the good work of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada (ULCC) back in 2003, only 4 provinces to date have taken ANY action on unclaimed intangible property rules and that does not mean rules are in place. Quite the contrary…
Ontario
Ontario was the first province to consider unclaimed property way back in 1989 when the province passed the Unclaimed Intangible Property Act. However, the statute was not proclaimed into force and the legislation was repealed at the end of 2011. 

Ontario Unclaimed Property Legislation

It’s hard to believe.

Over the span of 22 years, which included 4 different Premiers from 3 different parties, Ontario could not get the program actually into place for the benefit of Ontarians and the Province generally. Sad. Sad.

 

In any case, the 2012, the Ontario budget announced Ontario’s intention to try again and create an unclaimed property scheme that would mirror that of the US. The proposal would require current “holders” of intangible property in Ontario to remit such amounts to the Government & put in place a program where legal owners would be able to find and claim those amounts but until such time, the funds would be used for the benefit of all Ontarians. Property to be included in the program would include amounts due under insurance policies, unpaid wages and interests recognized by share certificates and bonds, as well as other property types.

Last June (2013) the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General (OMAG) held a series of round table stakeholders meetings in Toronto for stakeholders to express their opinions related to the new law & sought a second round of written comments from stakeholders which were due back on Sept. 18. (Yes we wrote 8 pages)

While holders may be concerned about a potential “burden” of paperwork and the retroactive application of such legislation It’s time for Ontario to have a program encompassing as much unclaimed property as possible Actually, it’s overdue.

Read more about Ontario’s proposal and related discussions on Ministry of the Attorney General Website the here

Quebec
Quebec has had a fairly comprehensive unclaimed property program since 1997 and that program has incorporated several aspects of the UUIPA into their program. However, Quebec’s program is not quite as broad in coverage as Alberta’s and is more focussed on financial assets such as securities, dividends, life insurance proceeds but not for example, payroll or accounts receivable credit balances. Holders include financial institutions, insurance companies, trust companies, mutual fund and other investment dealers, credit unions, pension plans holding financial assets, property of successions, property of dissolved businesses, property without an owner and property located in Quebec whose owner is unknown or untraceable. The minimum threshold is property valued at $100 or more. Like the UUIPA (and in the U.S.), jurisdiction is based on the last known address of the owner.
The dormancy period for most of the property types covered by Quebec’s unclaimed property law is 3 years and specifies procedures relating to reasonable searches for rightful owners and notifications as well as claim procedures.

Read More about Quebec’s unclaimed property at http://www.revenuquebec.ca/en/bnr/pfnr/detenteur/procedure_instit.aspx

 Alberta

Alberta’s Unclaimed Personal Property and Vested Property Act (UPPVPA) came into effect on September 1 2008. The UPPVPA extends to most property types that are specified in the US. It specifically excludes gift certificates, retail business credits, and certain other property from its scope but does apply to uncashed checks (including payroll), accounts receivable credits, refunds, bonds, shares, amounts due and payable under insurance policies, retirement and pension fund distributions, etc. However, Alberta does specify a threshold amount of $250 or more for the program. Also, while the law was intended to apply to securities, it has delayed implementation of the program to securities pending a review by the Alberta Treasury Board and Ministry of Finance (ATBF)

Read more about the Alberta UPPVPA at http://www.finance.alberta.ca/business/unclaimed_property/info_property_holders.html

British Columbia
The British Columbia form of unclaimed property law and regulations vary significantly from Alberta and the US in many respects. The program applies only to certain types of property valued at various dollar thresholds which can be confusing. The BC program includes the BC Unclaimed Property Society which was established as a non-profit society in 2003 to administer the unclaimed property program for British Columbia for the benefit of the Vancouver Foundation.
The program also specifies between mandatory or voluntary holders. Mandatory holders are required by law to report and remit unclaimed property to the BC Unclaimed Property Society whereas voluntary holders are not mandated by law to report and remit but strongly ‘encouraged’ to do so. Voluntary holders can maintain control of the property and just report.
Mandatory Holders include Municipal and provincial courts, credit unions, and real estate agents, debt collection agencies, and companies being liquidated.
Voluntary Holders include Common types of property voluntary holders report and remit are trust funds, property insurance and closed pension plans.
.
Read more about the BC unclaimed property program at  http://www.unclaimedpropertybc.ca/submit.php

So that’s about it. That’s about all.

There’s not much to write about with respect to Unclaimed Property Legislation being recognized as a “To Do” in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Newfoundland or the territories of Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut

  • 1 Province with a fairly comprehensive program.
  • 1 Province with a somewhat comprehensive program in place.
  • 1 Province with something in place.
  • 1 Province thinking about putting a program in place (twice) and…
  • 6 Provinces and 3 Territories who don’t seem to see the WIN/WIN that  Unclaimed Intangible Property Legislation could bring to individuals, families and government

The US has had Unclaimed Property Legislation in place for 50+ years or so in each State. The US looks upon such legislation as an important component of consumer protection legislation. The US has approximately $58 Billion to be found (and it can be found)

Why not in Canada? Our best guess and the few of us that discuss this problem on a regular basis is that Canada has most likely somewhere between $5-$6 Billion in Unclaimed Intangible Assets that’s a lot of economic action waiting to happen.

We’ve built a simple, secure solution that helps individuals and families better organize their important information in order to 1) Engage more proactively in financial/estate planning,   2) Enhance their level of emergency preparedness and 3) to help safeguard hard-earned financial assets from being lost or forgotten

But we also think that all Canadians deserve to have their financial assets safeguarded by Unclaimed Property Legislation. We’d like to know what you think:

 

 

 

 

Canada – such a great Country but

Dear Canada

We love Canada butWe love you but It does not compute

Such a great nation. So progressive in so many ways:

  • One of the wealthiest Countries in the world with the 8th highest per capita income globally
  • The 11th highest ranking Country in terms of Human Development
  • A proud member of the G8 (Group of 8 leading industrialized countries) , G10 (Group of 10 Economic Partners), and G-20 (Group of 20 Major economies in the world),
  • Openness to global trade & commerce as demonstrated by our alliances with NATO (National Atlantic Treaty Organization), NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) etc.
  • One of the most transparent and stable business climates in the world making Canada the 6th most attractive investment destination in the world (2014 Index of Economic Freedom)
  • An enviably strong & stable financial system as shown by the ability to withstand global financial turmoil in recent years with limited disruption
  • An excellent reputation for our judicial system which demonstrates an impeccable record of independence & transparency where private property is well protected including intellectual property rights consistent with world standards 

And yet…

Only 2 Provinces in Canada (being Quebec and Alberta) or 34% of the current population of Canada is safeguarded for financial risk by having Comprehensive Unclaimed Intangible Property Legislation in force . Unclaimed Intangible Property Legislation is considered wisely and widely as an essential element of Consumer Protection

Apparently, not in Canada yet. 

 Estimates of Unclaimed Intangible Property (AKA Unclaimed Financial Assets) range as high as $6 Billion for Canada. That number is increasing at an alarming rate and will continue to do so for a multitude of reasons.

We’ve built a simple, secure solution that helps individuals and families better organize their important information in order to 1) Engage more proactively in financial/estate planning,   2) Enhance their level of emergency preparedness and 3) to help safeguard hard-earned financial assets from being lost or forgotten

But we also think that all Canadians deserve to have their financial assets safeguarded by Unclaimed Property Legislation. We’d like to know what you think:

show me the money

Show me State wants to Show more Unclaimed Bonds

The “Show Me” State Legislature of Missouri is moving forward with legislation to move more money into the hands of its residents (and the State Treasury)

If new legislation becomes law, the State Treasurer, Clint Zweifel will start the process of redeeming US Savings Bonds currently held by the Federal Government when those bonds have been misplaced or lost in order to help reunite Missourians with their money. That amount is potentially in the Millions of Dollars.

The Benefit to the State? Missouri would safeguard the cash value of the bonds for owners and enable the State’s Unclaimed Property team to work towards finding the rightful owners. Owners or heirs would find federal bonds using www.showmemoney.com as they do for other financial assets safeguarded by the State of Missouri.

The State Treasury already holds more than $810 million in Unclaimed Property for more than 4.7 million owners. During Fiscal Year 2013, the State Treasurer returned a record-breaking $39.5 million to more than 135,000 accounts.

The Bank of Canada (as of December 2013) holds approximately $420 Million in Canada Savings Bonds that have matured but have not been redeemed. While Canadians can search the database on the Bank of Canada website for Unclaimed bank accounts (Federally chartered bank accounts (held in Canadian Dollars only) where there has been no activity for more than 10 years, there is no equivalent site for Unclaimed Canada Savings Bonds.

Yes. The US has an estimated $58 Billion in Unclaimed Funds

And yes….

$58 Billion in Unclaimed Funds or Financial Assets is a lot of Money.

But the very good news is that it’s fairly organized in terms of where to find it as opposed to say Canada.

Here’s an infographic provided by the Money Blog of NPR. It provides a breakdown of the $18 Billion or so that was held as of last year by the Federal Treasury of the US. This is just the Federal Amount of Unclaimed Money whereas each State has their stockpile as well that awaits the legal owners to find it; that’s another estimated $41.7 Billion

$16 Billion in Unclaimed Savings Bonds can be found here at treasuryhunt.gov

$900 Million in Unclaimed Tax Refunds (which expire after 3 years) can be found here 

If you want to check out the State Treasuries for Unclaimed funds you can find a link to each State at the national Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators website unclaimed.org 

 

$18 Billion in Unclaimed Cash in the Federal Treasury

$18 Billion in Unclaimed Cash in the Federal Treasury

 

 

 

 

SaskPower is looking for Unclaimed Bond Holders

SaskPower’s  tag line seems pretty appropriate we think…

SaskPower is looking for Unclaimed Bond Holders and we think that’s pretty great. They have taken a proactive approach to reuniting bond holders with their long-lost bonds by posting a list of those bond holders on their website. Those bond holders are owed bonds & interest valued at approximately $380,000. These bonds were issued from 1984-1991

Take a look for yourself, a friend or a loved one here 

Wouldn’t it be great if every Organization took a proactive approach to help reunite legal owners with their lost or unclaimed financial assets ? Wouldn’t it be great if the Bank of Canada provided the list of $420 million outstanding in Unclaimed Canada Savings Bonds ?

What kind of Economic Action would that stimulate at pretty much $0 cost?

 

Updated Snapshot – Unclaimed Financial Assets in Canada

Here’s a snapshot of why we worry about Unclaimed Financial Assets in Canada by way of some “Fast Facts” . No matter what you call them be that, Unclaimed/Lost or Abandoned Money/ Financial Assets or Funds or more technically speaking, Unclaimed Intangible Assets or Property,  the problem is BIG and the value is growing and will continue to do so in the future.

Some Fast yet hard to Find Facts about Unclaimed Financial Assets in Canada

Some Fast yet hard to Find Facts about Unclaimed Financial Assets in Canada

Canada is not alone with this growing problem – It’s a global problem but around the globe most Countries have Unclaimed Property Legislation in place as an important part of Consumer Protection and as a WIN/WIN for Consumers and the Government themselves (The majority of those Governments use the unclaimed assets while proactively looking for the legal owners). The value of Unclaimed Property is approximately $58 Billion in the US. In Canada, most estimate the problem to be approximately $4-$6 Billion. That’s a big range because no one knows for certain.

Facts on Unclaimed Financial Assets are hard to find in Canada, given that there are only 2 provinces with any type of comprehensive  legislation relating to Unclaimed funds in place & Alberta doesn’t seem to want to share that information yet. We have a white paper as well that is in draft form if you are looking for more information – please contact us

2 BIG lessons behind Billions in Unpaid Death Benefits

Unpaid Death Benefits from Life Insurance policies are still very much in the news in the US & that’s not likely to change for a while given that investigations & law suits are still ongoing. All in all, it’s a Sad & Ugly story that includes the use, abuse & non use of the “Death Master File” & Unknown Billions of Dollars in Unpaid Death Benefits. It’s also a reminder & a confirmation of the need to safeguard life insurance policies and share the details with loved ones. 

Unpaid Death Benefits from a Life Insurance Policy

Unpaid Death Benefits

Unclaimed death benefits refers to a life policy where death benefits under that policy have not yet been paid to a beneficiary by the Insurer. In the US, where Unclaimed Property Legislation has existed for some 50+ years, Individual States have become quite ‘proactive‘ or ‘aggressive‘ with Insurers in recent years.  The use of the term Proactive versus Aggressive depends upon whether you are a State or an Insurer & it all more/less relates to the use, abuse or non-use of the US Social Security Administration’ s Death Master File

That’s the file that most State Governments expected Insurers to use to identify deceased life policy owners in a timely manner. However, too many delayed or non payments to designated beneficiaries were suspected to exist and so, a multitude of reviews have taken place over the past 2 years by both State Attorney Generals & State Insurance departments to see whether, and to what extent, insurers had failed to fulfill their beneficiary payment responsibilities. Examinations, Public inquiries, subpoenas, lawsuits and Audits have been BIG news  across the US given the Billions that have been estimated to be outstanding.

A number of States have proudly announced settlement agreements reached with various insurers. Multi State settlements often totaling in the millions are becoming the norm. No wrong doing has actually been admitted to by the Insurers; they have only indicated that the settlements have more to do with moving “things forward”

New York/New York

While actual Go Forward Guidance in the form of changes, new laws and regulations have been slow to materialize, in  December 2012, New York enacted a law requiring insurers to make regular searches of records to identify when a policyholder died and to locate beneficiaries so that life insurance proceeds can be paid.  

And, in July last year,  New York announced that its investigations, which started in July 2011, had resulted in more than $1.1 Billion in unclaimed life insurance benefits being recovered. It was determined that Insurance companies were not using the Death Master file as provided, to search  for life policies that needed to be paid out BUT most insurers were using it to determine when to stop making annuity payments. That’s troubling to say the least.

As a result of New York’s findings, it’s estimated that 100,000 individuals or families across the US including 25,000 from New York received policy benefits. The oldest claim dated back to 1960. Many of those recipients were completely unaware that there was a life insurance policy in place. That made for some emotional press conferences.

In all, $1.15 Billion in recoveries had been made to last July and $339 Million of that was turned over to beneficiaries. The difference will reside with New York State but listed on the States Unclaimed Property website for heirs to find.

It’s unfortunate that the delay in developing uniform guidelines and in providing  better guidance continues to create uncertainty for insurers & delay death benefit payouts further.

Estimates of how much money unclaimed benefits may actually represent across the US vary widely from a few Billion $ to Multiple billion $. No one can yet claim to have an actual number yet outside of describing it as BIG

This may all sound very confusing to those unfamiliar with the Unclaimed Property legislation that exists in many countries like the US (but not Canada outside of Alberta and Quebec) . Many may wonder why each State is being so very proactive.? The answer is that these investigations, audits and new guidelines have major financial implications not just for grateful beneficiaries but also to the individual states as well. That’s due to the fact that in the case of any of those unclaimed death benefits where the beneficiaries may be unable to be located or found; those death benefits will remain with the State & not the Insurer.

New developments are certain to occur shortly, but the real lesson in this story is not about the Greed which would seem to be at play here, but the vital importance of

1) Carefully Safeguarding the details of Life Insurance Policies for the benefit of those you gave consideration to in the first place by making them a beneficiary and

2) Advising those beneficiaries or those close to you about those Life Insurance policies and where the details can be found.

The best person to safeguard your legacy is You.  

LegacyTracker can help. We’ve included a safe & accessible location inside LegacyTracker to  secure your life insurance details. You can also can attach the policy alongside that information. 

Canada launches a 50 Year Bond. Really ?

canada-savings-bonds

Allow me to comment on the idea and now the reality of the Bank of Canada issuing 50 year bonds

On April 28th, Finance Minister Joe Oliver announced that the Government of Canada had indeed successfully issued $1.5 Billion in 50 year bonds maturing December 1 2064 at 2.96%.  He summarized as follows:

“In the current environment, it is both advantageous and prudent for our Government to lock in additional long-term funding. This 50-year bond will help us meet our goal of raising stable and low-cost funding to meet Canada’s financial needs and best serve taxpayers.”

I get that. It’s cheap debt for 50 years.

However, as the obsessed Unclaimed Intangible Property Legislation Advocate that I am for Canada…I’m obviously worried about how many Canadians will lose track of this 50 year bond. While I have not yet been able to pry the list of Unclaimed/Matured Canada Savings Bonds from the Government to calculate the average time it has taken to lose a Canada Savings Bond it’s a lot less than 50 years…

The value of Unclaimed/matured Canada Savings Bonds already exceeds $420 Million 

So, how many of these 50 year bonds will be forgotten by December 2064 (more) ?

Sad but true. Sorry I’m sarcastic but advocating for Unclaimed Intangible Property Legislation across the Land is exhausting work, It should not be so difficult to bring some awareness and concern to this issue given:

  1.  The estimated value of Unclaimed Financial Assets in Canada is somewhere between $4-6 Billion already
  2. The rate of increase for financial assets is already alarming. Unclaimed bank accounts increased by $181 Million (52% ) on a net basis over the past 5 years. Unclaimed Canada Savings Bonds increased by $161 Million (37% annualized ) over the past 20 months.
  3. For a multitude of reasons the rate of increase in financial assets becoming unclaimed will only increase without legislation and a solution in place (we’re working on both)
  4. Canada is so far behind in putting into place, Consumer Protection legislation to safeguard lost financial assets for Canadians and their families. It’s tragic and sad. The US has had comprehensive legislation in place for 50+ years. Legislation exists in most Countries including the UK,  Australia, New Zealand, Kenya etc.

For information about how to change the ownership of a bond, or the address of a bond holder or what to do about a lost, stolen or destroyed Bond please refer to the Bank of Canada website here   The rules, regulations and process is a bit overwhelming. Unfortunately, unlike the US and unlike the case of the $532 Million in unclaimed bank accounts relating to CDN $ accounts once held at a Federally Chartered Bank, there is no database of Unclaimed/Matured Canada Savings Bonds available to search.

You need to call to make an inquiry so please do, because I know for a fact, unfortunately that they are not looking for you.

Law Society Unclaimed Trust monies UP

Yet another indication of the alarming increase in Unclaimed Financial Assets I keep lamenting about…The Law Society of Upper Canada just released their 2013 Annual Report.

Unclaimed Trust Funds increased by $454,215 in 2013 to $3.2 Million

 

Law Society of Upper Canada Unclaimed Trust Funds

Unclaimed Trust Funds (Page 2)
Unclaimed trust funds continue to increase, now totalling $3.2 M as compared to $2.7 M at the end of 2012. These are trust monies turned over to the Society by lawyers who are unable to locate or identify the clients to whom the monies are owed. To date, monies returned to clients from the fund have been nominal. By statute, the Society administers the unclaimed trust funds, in perpetuity, and is entitled to reimbursement
for administrative expenses to a limit of the annual income earned on funds held. Net income, if any, is available for transfer to the Law Foundation of Ontario (“LFO”). To date, administrative expenses have exceeded income and no transfers to the LFO have been made

More from the 2013 Financial Statements regarding  Unclaimed Trust Funds…

10. Unclaimed Trust Funds (Page 22)
Section 59.6 of the Law Society Act permits a member who has held money in trust for, or on account of, a person for a period of at least two years, to apply in accordance with the by-laws for permission to pay the money to the Society. Money paid to the Society is held in trust in perpetuity for the purpose of satisfying the claims of the persons who are entitled to the capital amount. Subject to certain provisions in the Act enabling the Society to recover its expenses associated with maintaining these funds, net income from the money held in trust shall be paid to the Law Foundation of Ontario. Unclaimed money held in trust
amounts to $3,195,000 (2012 – $2,747,000).

Source: Law Society of Ontario 2013 Financials here 

Unclaimed in Pennsylvania

Life insurance is an important safeguard for financial security for families and loved ones but  only if it does not get added to the Unclaimed Property balance.” So said State Treasurer Rob McCord of Pennsylvania. “Each year, Treasury receives millions of dollars of unclaimed property, a considerable portion of which are unpaid or uncollected life insurance benefits,”

Mr. McCord knows what he’s talking about because he and his department have reunited $13.2 M in unclaimed life insurance benefits with the rightful owners. However, a lot  more remains to be claimed with the help of the Treasury’s online database at www.patreasury.gov.

In the Great State of Pennsylvania, financial assets get paid to the Treasury after approximately 5 years of no contact with the owner, or in the case of life insurance policies, with the insured or the beneficiary. The “Holder Compliance Unit” within the Treasury’ has increased their efforts considerably to collect dormant life insurance proceeds and make insurers aware of their obligations under Pennsylvania’s unclaimed property law.

The annual deadline for insurance companies to report & remit dormant or unpaid life insurance proceeds is each year on April 15th… writing off unclaimed property as income does not relieve this liability

Since 2009, Treasury has collected $123 M in unpaid life insurance benefits from several of the nation’s largest insurers The, $13.2 M noted earlier is part of this total which has been paid to beneficiaries; it`s an ongoing effort to collect from the Insurance holder and find and payout the rightful claimant.

Of course Unclaimed Insurance Policies are just part of a bigger pool of Unclaimed Financial Assets that are collected from Organizations in accordance with legislation in order that the State can help find legal owners. Since January 2009, the Pennsylvania Treasury has collected more than $1.1 B  in unclaimed property, returned more than $532 M in unclaimed property to the rightful owners, and adding about $617 M  to the State’s General Fund via the Unclaimed Property Program. That leaves approximately $2.2 B in unclaimed property. That`s a lot of unclaimed property for a population of approximately 13 million

Have you ever lived in Pennsylvania or know someone else that has? Check out the database here  www.patreasury.gov.

$2B in Unclaimed Money

Sunday Reading worth $2 Billion +

How great would it be to spend a lazy Sunday morning reviewing unclaimed property listings in the hope that you might find your name or the name of a family member or friend that was owed some money that they had somehow become separated from? By money we mean any form of financial asset like an Unclaimed Bank account, or Insurance proceeds, or deposits or Unpaid Wages/Commissions or Shares, Dividends, Bonds,  or pension funds, or a Tax refund, or even the contents of safety deposit boxes etc. The list is long in terms of the type of asset which makes the list of names become bigger each year.

The Office of the Massachusetts Treasurer publishes at least once a year, the names of all those who appear on the Unclaimed Property files maintained by the State. Well, It’s actually a supplement to the Sunday Paper given the fact that the list now exceeds 58 pages.

Yes 58 Pages worth some $2.4 Billion.

The State of Massachusetts estimates that 1 out of every 10 people have unclaimed property. 

Like all US States, Massachusetts has had unclaimed property legislation in place for many years for financial assets in order to:

  • Protect the property rights of owners and reunite them with their funds
  • To promote a central point of contact for owners to claim unclaimed funds
  • To ensure that any organization that holds a financial asset transfers it to the State

The newspaper supplement is just one of the methods that the State Treasurer uses to return unclaimed property to rightful owners. They also send notices to the last known address of course by they also participate in Outreach programs like attending local fairs, malls, baseball games and nursing homes in order to connect and hopefully reunite owners with their unclaimed property. They also attend groups meetings upon request.

Helping folks find missing money …would be a great job.

In any case, the efforts of the State treasury seem to be paying off..  Last year the Treasurer returned some $102 Million to 43,000 individuals 

Have you ever been to Massachusetts ? Have a friend or Relative there?  Check the online database for yourself or someone you know and make it a Sunny Sunday..

Search here

Sadly and so surprisingly for a Country as great as Canada , we are years behind the US in making searching and reclaiming unclaimed financial assets so civilized. Only 2 Provinces – Alberta and Quebec have any sort of comprehensive Unclaimed Property Legislation. The Province of BC does have some legislation but it is not comprehensive nor is it mandatory in all respects. The US has always considered Unclaimed Property Legislation as an important part of Consumer Protection Legislation. The current total is somewhere in the neighbourhood of $58 Billion for the US. For Canada, it’s anyone’s guess but most guesses are somewhere between $4 Billion and $6 Billion. The Bank of Canada accounts for approximately $1 Billion alone.

LegacyTracker provides a simple, secure way for individuals & families to safeguard all of their important documents & information in order that hard-earned financial assets do not become unclaimed.  LegacyTracker is a white label product perfect for Financial Service Organizations & Providers who will recognize the WIN/WIN benefit of offering a branded personal financial/estate organizing solution to their clients and account holders.

Lost Bonds? Can including them in an RRSP reduce the risk?

Do Bonds Belong in an RRSP?

If it reduces the chance that the Bond becomes a “Lost Bond”  I think that’s a good reason to include Bonds in an RRSP

canada-savings-bondsA recent blog post (April 24th)  caught our interest as posts from the Canadian Couch Potato often do. This particular post was whether or not Bonds should be held within an individual’s RRSP. You can link and read this post here  

The post gave a thorough analysis for readers to consider which including a lot of factors like bond interest being fully taxable (versus dividends/capital gains), asset allocation considerations, comparable yields, RRIF withdrawal rules, foreign tax withholding etc.

The post from Dan Bortolotti was a summary of the work that he and & Justin Bender did in their white paper on the subject  including their full methodology. Their white paper Asset Location for Taxable Investors can be found here 

Again, Dan and Justin’s conclusions were based on a multitude of factors but they concluded that, it would have been preferable to hold bonds in an RRSP during the last decade. Those factors all need to be considered or re-considered going forward. But, I would like to humbly offer another factor going forward for their consideration…the risk of actual physical loss of the Bonds …will keeping the bonds inside an RRSP reduce the risk of them being lost all together ?

Because, the fact is that too many bonds are being lost and ending up unclaimed.

As of last December, the Bank of Canada has $420 Million in Unclaimed/Matured Canada Savings Bonds waiting to be claimed. Earlier this month, I received confirmation that Ontario had $64 Million in Unclaimed/Matured Ontario Savings Bonds as of March 2013, waiting to be claimed.

In both instances, there is no one within the Government looking for those owners. I have volunteered to do so. We will see if they accept my offer because I find it tragically sad that Canadian investors are losing track of their hard-earned financial assets including Bonds. What makes matter worse is that the Unclaimed interest earned by those bonds has most likely been taxed along the way. (Yes, It would be interesting to know if the T5’s reached the bond owner directly or if their returns were reassessed for that interest)

Assumption Alert

I’m going to make an assumption here that there is a better chance that an individual, a loved one or an executor will have a better chance of finding and locating an RRSP than a Bond certificate that could have very well been lost, destroyed, or misplaced somewhere along the way to it maturing. So…on the basis of that Assumption I think Bonds do belong in an RRSP. 

The Bluegrass State knows how to return Green (Cash)

Kentucky is looking to push forward & further on their quest to return unclaimed money

That`s the mission in the Bluegrass State of Kentucky for Todd Hollenbach, the State Treasurer. Mr. Hollenbach  has been spreading joy across the State over the past 6 years where his office has returned more than $100 million in unclaimed property to rightful owners in that time.

It`s a pretty incredible record given that it`s more than all the state treasurers combined returned in the 60 years before Mr. Hollenbach came into office. (Kentucky`s Unclaimed Property Program dates back to 1942) But Mr. Hollenbach is determined to do more. He vowed recently to return $120 Million before his term ends in 2015 by visiting all 120 counties in Kentucky (Hence his 120 in 120 slogan)

Last year the the Kentucky State Treasury collected a record of $53 Million in unclaimed financial assets from property holders, including banks and insurance companies. The State currently holds some $150 Million in total Unclaimed property. That`s a lot of money for a State of approximately 4.4 Million

Mr. Hollenbach attributes much of the success in returning unclaimed property to a volunteer program called “Treasure Finders.” which includes establishing a phone bank, enlisting volunteers to review property listings, calling residents to inform them of potential unclaimed property and providing assistance in completing claim forms. 

(HOW GREAT A JOB IS THAT ? )

Even if the State is not successful in returning unclaimed property it`s a WIN for the State and a win for taxpayers as money not returned goes into the General Fund to pay for identified programs like education, That`s the WIN WIN in having Unclaimed Intangible Property Legislation in place.

Read the entire article here 

Want to look for any unclaimed money in Kentucky go here 

New York returns $1 Million a day in unclaimed funds

Everyday NY returns $1 Million to those who file claims on their Unclaimed Funds Database

New York has been able to return $95,075,685 since January 2014

New York has been able to return this amount thanks to comprehensive (US wide) legislation, an easy to search database on the State website, regular promotion around unclaimed funds and a multitude of outreach activity aimed specifically at searching and finding the legal owners of the lost money that they are holding.

Despite this, New York still has $12 Billion in Unclaimed (hard earned) financial assets

Imagine if you will if

1) each Canadian province & territory in Canada (not just 2) had comprehensive & consistent legislation to protect unclaimed/lost financial assets &

2) Each Canadian province & territory in Canada (not just 2) provided a comprehensive & easy to search database  like the US and many other Countries provide

It`s time. It doesn’t take a lot to become separated from your money or from money a loved one had. Famous Celebrities can lose track as well. Here are a few that show up in the NY database:

  • Tina Fey (from 2005)
  • Mariah Carey (from 2002)
  • Beyonce
  • HIlary Clinton
  • Sean “Diddy” Combs (from 1991)
  • Angelina Jolie (from 2004)
  • Glenn Close (from 1994)
  • Eliot Spitzer
  • Denis Leary
  • Robert DeNiro
  • Paula Zahn
  • Woody Allen (from 2012)
  • Yoko Ono (from 2012)
  • Anthony Wiener

New York Unclaimed money database 

The core mission behind LegacyTracker has been to help solve the problem of funds becoming Unclaimed. But LegacyTracker as an online financial/estate organizing solution can do a lot more both for consumers and the trusted financial providers they work with. Contact us to find out more