Tag Archives: Ont 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to pass unclaimed property legislation in 1989 the statute was not proclaimed into force and the legislation was repealed 22 years later in 2011.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.

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

 

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.

Unclaimed Credit Union Balances

Finding Unclaimed Credit Union Balances – no easy task

We’ve made no secret of the fact that we love Credit Unions but…

Why is finding an unclaimed Credit Union balance in Canada so …complicated to say the least ?

There`s over $532 million in unclaimed bank accounts held by the Bank of Canada. This balance is made up of Canadian dollar accounts held originally by a federally regulated bank where the account was inactive for a period of 10 or more years. The Bank of Canada makes available a searchable database of unclaimed bank accounts which anyone can search here 

Although we remain disappointed about the fact that the Bank of Canada`s searchable database does not include inactive accounts held in a foreign currency (since they are very familiar with exchange rates), the process and the rules seem simple enough.

If only Canada had such clarity in the case of unclaimed accounts held by Credit Unions or Financial Cooperatives !

Alas, Credit Unions and Financial Cooperatives are provincially regulated and unfortunately, each Province has their own rules (or doesn’t). More unfortunately, only 3 provinces currently make available a searchable database available to the public (Quebec, British Columbia and Nova Scotia)

Here`s a short rundown on what we know about Unclaimed Balances held by Credit Unions in some (apologies-not all) Provinces across the Country:

Alberta: After 10 years of inactivity, unclaimed account balances are transferred to the Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corporation (CUDGC) which holds the money for another 20 years before it is considered revenue for Alberta. As of 2013, the CUDGC held some $1.36 Million in unclaimed accounts.

British Columbia: After 10 years of inactivity, unclaimed account balances over $100 are transferred to the BC Unclaimed Property Society which holds the account indefinitely. A searchable database is available here 

Nova Scotia: After 7 years of inactivity, unclaimed accounts are transferred to the Nova Scotia Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation (CUDIC).  The CUDIC holds the balance in perpetuity. As of 2013, the Nova Scotia Credit Union reported $577 Thousand in unclaimed accounts. A searchable database is available here 

Quebec: After 3 years of inactivity, unclaimed accounts are transferred to Revenu Quebec where the balances are held for 30 more years for amounts over $500 or 10 years if the amount is less than $500. A searchable database is available here 

Saskatchewan: After 6 years of inactivity, unclaimed accounts worth more than $5,000 are transferred to the provincial Credit Union Deposit Guarantee Corp. The balance of unclaimed accounts in 2013 was $244 Thousand. A searchable database is expected to be available soon

Ontario: Section 182 of the Credit Union and Caisses Populaires Act in Ontario notes that accounts that have been inactive for a period of 10 years are to be forwarded to the Ministry of Finance in accordance with the Minister`s directions. Unfortunately, those directions have still not been provided despite the fact that the Act became law in 1994. The Financial Services Commission of Ontario which administers the regulations pertaining to Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires in Ontario, can not provide us with any detail as to why there has been a delay of 20 years by the Ministry of Finance in providing `directions`. Yikes.

That’s more than unfortunate for account holders or heirs in Canada`s most populous Province who should be able search & claim accounts that they are legally entitled to in one central place.

We are left to wonder why Minister of Finance in Ontario seems so indifferent about this matter given the state of finances in Ontario and the fact that this would be a welcome help to families who have for one reason or another lost track of an account

This ‘Mish Mash’ of rules and procedures depending upon your jurisdiction, is a Good Reason to safeguard your financial assets & all of your financial and legal information in a secure and accessible location. We have one for you –  LegacyTracker.

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.

 

 

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.

 

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.

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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:

Isn't it time that all of Canada had Unclaimed Property Legislation?
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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:

Isn't it time that all of Canada had Unclaimed Property Legislation?
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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