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.
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.
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
- 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.