Tag Archives: USA

Lost & returned savings bonds make a perfect Christmas story

Lost but found savings bonds

$127,000 in lost & returned savings bonds – make for a pretty perfect Christmas story but…

A (very kind) Massachusetts bargain hunter last month returned  $127,000 in matured U.S. savings bonds he found in a desk that he had paid $40 for. The bonds had been tucked away for safekeeping for many years despite the fact that the owner hadn’t forgotten about the bonds; he had just forgotten what he had done with them. He had searched for the missing bonds for many years even going as far as seeking help from the US Federal Government via their unclaimed bond program. His attempts were unsuccessful and so the recent return of the long-lost bonds makes for a really nice story of kindness this time of year.

 The Christmas angel  is Phil LeClerc, of Weymouth, Mass who deserves a great Christmas after making it a Merry Christmas for another family in Massachusetts.  Mr. LeClerc promptly returned the long-lost savings bonds after finding them quite by accident, to the auction house where he had made the desk purchase.

The lost & returned U.S. savings bonds  in $500, $1,000 and $10,000 denominations — belonged to a 94-year-old man who did not have enough money to pay to live in an assisted living home…but now he does. Those lost & returned savings bonds will be tremendously helpful to his future care.

Read more about the story here 

A happy ending indeed which is a nice boost to our faith in human kindness but sad at the same time and a lesson for others. What if the bonds had not been found & returned? The family had been in the process of liquidating all of the man’s assets in order to help care for him; hence the sale of the now-famous desk. There seems little doubt that the bonds could have been useful for many years. The (anonymous) bond owner had been looking for the bonds for many years and so it seems safe to assume that the emotional and financial drain had taken a toll on him & his family.

No one loses Financial Assets on purpose.

Lessons abound in this story.

It’s important to store vital documents in a safe place and share that information with those you trust. Copies of hard to replace documents are also helpful and would have proved really helpful in this case where the elderly gentlemen knew he had purchased the bonds but had no proof or documentation in order to claim them.

Our goal with LegacyTracker is to prevent exactly this kind of misfortune from happening. LegacyTracker helps families secure & share important information including copies of critical documents with trusted loved ones or advisors.

Worries of the Wealthy (HNW) in 2014

 

US Trust 2014

The 2014 version of the U.S Trust Annual Insights on Wealth and Worth was recently released. The annual survey provides insight on the wealth management challenges confronting high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals in the US.

High Net worth is defined for the purposes of this survey as being $3 Million or more in investable assets. The 2014 survey sheds light particularly on the growing challenges and needs that come with more complex family dynamics including multi-generational and extended family situations. Worries of the Wealthy.

Some highlights that we found particularly interesting and some of the challenges that LegacyTracker can help with….

The Top 5 risks to family wealth

Divorce, Addictions, Untimely death or disability of a primary income earner, medical problems  and disagreements over inheritance or distribution of family assets

Family circumstances US Trust 2014

“The modern American family is more diverse than it once was, adding to the challenges of wealth management for high-net worth investors and their advisors. Changing family structures and roles among multiple generations of immediate and extended family members affect the way family members interact, communicate  and manage their wealth”

Ranking the most important reasons for having an estate plan

US Trust 2014 Reasons for Estate Planning

How important are Financial Legacies ?

While 60% of those surveyed thought it was important that they leave a financial legacy, 96% of wealthy parents are concerned that their children will be mature enough to receive an inheritance until at least age 25 and 37% think the ideal age is between 30-34. That might explain why only 38% of wealthy parents have fully disclosed their financial status to adult children over age 25.

Executor choices

Perhaps some troubling challenges on the horizon?

  • More than 3/4 of those surveyed have named a family member or friend as executor
  • Most often, individuals name their spouse as an executor but…
  • Nearly a quarter of those surveyed had not yet chosen an executor or trustee
  • 22% have not named a trustee because they have not established a trust

Families and Friends as Executors US Trust 2014

Few consider capacity of executors

Executor challenges

There were many challenges noted by those that have served as an executor or trustee. The 2nd biggest challenge cited was…having access or knowledge relating to where the records and important information was kept.  We would suggest that this issue adds to the biggest challenge noted being, the time commitment of time require to execute a will. Time is money and time can also add to the grief already being experienced in the case of a loved one who has been named as executor which happens a majority of the time even in high net worth families.

 

US Trust 2014 Survey on Executors

Yes. LegacyTracker can help with some of these challenges; important documents & information is critical & so is the sharing of that information as required. Our built in alerts & reminders are all about ensuring that the proper documentation & information is safeguarded.

 

Read the full US Trust Survey US Trust 2014 survey on High Net worth individuals

 

 

Roosevelt on whining

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

We think Theodore Roosevelt would approve.

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

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

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

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

So technically speaking…we`re not whining.

LegacyTracker

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

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

Connect with us for more info.

 

 

Bitcoin - a headache for Estate Planners

Bitcoin – Virtual currency & new headache for estate planning

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

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

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

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

 

Estate Planning for Digital Assets

UFADAA makes estate planning for digital assets a little easier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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Orphan Policies increase the risk of Unclaimed Policies

What makes it even more likely that an Insurance policy may go unclaimed  ?

Orphan Policies 

To clarify, Orphan policies do not relate to coverage for Orphans but rather to the fact that over time, lots of policyholders become “unattached” to a servicing agent. The policy holders become Orphans in a sense.

A recent article from  Insurance Business entitled Orphan Policyholders – How many are there ? noted :

Life insurance

Statistics vary about how many policyholders are orphans with figures being reported as high as 50 per cent for some companies. In an economic downturn more agents tend to leave the business, which creates more orphans. This suggests that the number of orphans likely has increased over the last several year.

 

The same article notes a recent survey conducted by Toronto based NewLink Group that estimated orphan policies being as high as 36% of personal life policy holders in Canada and 29% in the U.S. Orphan policies are more likely to be those purchased from a life agent/broker (41 % in Canada & 39% in the U.S.) as compared to those purchased from a financial planner or advisor (18 % in Canada & 22 % in the U.S.)

Whats at risk when a policy becomes orphaned ?

  • Beneficiary changes
  • Address changes
  • Insurance policy maturities as well as
  • Awareness of an actual claim occurring

A major gap develops when individuals and families may no longer have a direct contact with their contract provider by way of servicing agent. Unclaimed policies are more likely to be at risk of becoming unclaimed.  Orphaned policies may provide another reason why industry experts have estimated that Unclaimed policies may be as high as 20-30% of all life insurance policies

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

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.

A Tall Order for Credit Unions-Challenges & Opportunities

Credit Unions are trusted financial institutions with a legacy in financial services but like many financial organizations, they are facing more challenges than ever in the financial marketplace. A November 2013 survey  of 547 Credit Unions was undertaken by Sundeep Kapur of Allied Solutions alongside the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (USA) to identify and look at some of those challenges. Regulatory Compliance is always a challenge.

But the results showed many of the challenges today are related to determining HOW TO:

  • Provide member value to last a lifetime
  • Grow Member relationships beyond an average of 2.5 products per member
  • Attract & retain members by creating deeper relationships
  • Increase both Self Service & Digital Channels & Connections with members
  • Help/Mentor members learn what they need to know
  • Compete with non traditional financial organizations
  • Do more with existing members (especially if they are using another partner currently)
  • Reduce marketing costs from an average of $9-$11 per consumer and/or receive specific or better return on that investment

Or In Summary: How to reduce costs, increase member engagement and drive incremental revenue because Credit Union Members want Convenience, Knowledge, Recognition, Services and Innovation while having higher expectations, questionable loyalty to a brand , and lower attention spans A Tall Order to be sure, but these are the key benefits that we truly believe LegacyTracker can help your Credit Union with.

If you would like to read the survey, you can download it here 

What are Credit Union Leaders worried about?

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.

More work required on Estate Planning

New Survey: Same sad stats on Estate Planning & Wills

Different year: Same sad stats on Estate Planning & Wills 

PWC’s Employee Financial Wellness Survey tracks the financial & retirement well being of working adults across the US. For 2014, the survey included 2,100 full-time employees between the ages of 21-32(Gen Y), 33-53(Gen X) and 54-71(Baby Boomers)

With reference to Estate Planning, the survey showed that there is very little progress being made:

Overall, only 40% of employees have a will. This compares to 41% in 2013 & 37% in 2012. The % of those who have a will increases with age, only 51% of those age 55 to 64, have a will.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Baby Boomers (59%),
  • Gen X (31%)
  • Gen Y (20%)

Of those employees who have a will,:

  • 66% say they have reviewed it and made any necessary updates within the last 5 years.
  • 34% of employees have a living will.
  • 29% have a durable power of attorney for financial matters and 30% for healthcare matters.
  • 75% indicate that their beneficiary forms are up-to-date

Read more of the survey results from PWC’s survey here 

LegacyTracker provides a simple, secure way for individuals & families to safeguard all of their important documents & information. Built in alerts & reminders …can include reminders that estate planning items are missing. 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. LegacyTracker is also a solution that Employers or Membership based organizations can offer to their employees and members.

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