Category Archives: Need 4 Consumer Protection Legislation

Dear Doug: Unclaimed Property Legislation is “For the people” and will help you pay for promises

There’s approximately $2 billion+ in Unclaimed property sitting with various financial organizations across Ontario that needs to be returned to hard-working Ontarians but no one knows how to find those assets. That’s not right nor fair but also sad because a large portion of that would ultimately also serve the Ontario budget in a big way now and in years to come. All we need to make it happen is long-awaited Unclaimed Property Legislation.  Such legislation in Ontario would truly fit the definition of “For the People” but also for the Province.

Unclaimed property legislation is an important part of consumer protection – but missing in Ontario

Ontario is the single largest jurisdiction in North America without unclaimed property law to protect consumers. Such legislation is an important aspect of consumer protection which is why all jurisdictions across the US have had such legislation in force for 50 years or more. Unclaimed property legislation also exists across the UK, Australia, New Zealand and most recently, Kenya.   In the last 10 years legislation has been enacted in Alberta and Quebec. Both provinces like the US, offering a centralized database for searches but differing slightly in the assets that are included. BC has had legislation in place since 2000, but there is a voluntary element which is unlike any other jurisdiction.

There is no reporting of unclaimed assets which makes finding those lost assets difficult to say the least

But it is Ontario that remains the most disappointing outlier as Canada’s largest province where much of the financial sector is located. If you live in Ontario and you or a loved one have misplaced or lost a financial asset, the lack of legislation makes it hard to find those assets. If your Grandfather Jack made you a beneficiary on an insurance policy and forgot to tell you about it before he passed away you’re out of luck. There is no obligation for an insurer to look for beneficiaries even if the insured has likely passed, based on age. If your Mom invested in an Ontario Savings bond 20 years ago and she died without telling you, the bond is part of the $70 million or more in unclaimed/matured Ontario Savings bonds sitting idle because the Province has indicated, it’s “not their job” to look for bond holders even if they had the address to send a  T5 for tax purposes. If your Dad had an account with an Ontario Credit Union 30 years ago that he forgot about, it’s still there waiting for him there because Ontario Credit Unions have been waiting for the Ministry of Finance to tell them where to send inactive and unclaimed credit union accounts for more than 20 years. Section 182 of the Ontario Credit Union Act (1994) indicated that unclaimed accounts should be set aside but didn’t specify where to forward them.  Whereas, in the case of federally regulated banks, Canadian dollar accounts without activity for 10 years or more are forwarded to the Bank of Canada by December of each year and added to the unclaimed account registry available online.

Unclaimed Property Legislation would be a Win/Win for the people of Ontario and the Provincial treasury

Ironically, Ontario was the first Canadian province to pass unclaimed property legislation in 1989, in order to “safeguard the rights of owners of intangible property by providing a method for owners to recover, in perpetuity, their intangible property held by others. “  The program as envisioned was to rely on the services of the Public Trustee to administer the program on behalf of the province, “to hold and to return lost and forgotten property”. The Act also specified that unclaimed intangible property was to be used for the benefit of the people of Ontario until the property was claimed by its owner.  That’s the way it works in the US. In the US, despite central databases and proactive promotion to residents to look online for any missing money, a good portion of over $70 billion total in unclaimed financial assets helps support state treasuries, in particular education, infrastructure and health care. Indeed, in most US states, while claims can be made in perpetuity by legal owners or by their heirs, it’s been long considered good public policy to put unclaimed property to work which is why unclaimed financial property is a big and growing revenue generator ranking 3rd after corporate and personal tax. That makes unclaimed financial property legislation a win/win for owners and for government.

Ontario has had 2 false starts with Unclaimed Financial Property legislation and is about 50 years behind putting that legislation in place but the former Attorney General declared it “Not a Priority”

Despite the best interest of those who could benefit from Unclaimed property legislation, the statute for unclaimed property legislation in Ontario was not proclaimed into force after being passed in 1989 and 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. But despite myself and other stakeholders attending and providing input to those consultations with the Ontario Ministry of Attorney General in 2013, there has been virtually no follow-up.  After making several inquiries, the only  response I could gather from the now former, Attorney General’s office was that it was “not a priority” This despite the fact that the proposed program for unclaimed intangible property could be fairly easily initiated utilizing the Uniform Unclaimed Intangible Property Act, which was developed by the Uniform Law Conference of Canada many years ago. The rules are written we just need it to move forward.

Ontario is a disappointing outlier when it comes to unclaimed property legislation despite an approximate $2 Billion in unclaimed financial assets

And so here we are in 2018 with Ontario remaining as the single largest outlier in North America when it comes to unclaimed property legislation.  That’s due to the fact that Ontario has an estimated $2 Billion + in unclaimed or lost financial assets in the form of unclaimed provincially regulated bank/trust/credit union accounts, insurance policies, share certificates, dividends, unclaimed wages, bonds, pensions and other property types including prepaid funeral deposits, utility deposits and tax refunds etc.  Without any legislation there is no duty for organizations holding unclaimed property to report on or to relinquish those assets or to look for those who have lost track of their financial assets (or the heirs of legal owners).

If you think that’s a lot of money here’s a comparable. The State of Illinois has had unclaimed property program in place since 1962 and has a population of about a million less than Ontario. The Illinois Treasurer’s unclaimed property program – now known as I-Cash  is currently safeguarding 15 million properties valued at roughly $2.9 Billion and working to reunite each with its rightful owner. 1 in four residents of Illinois who search the I-Cash database finds property to claim with an average claim of $1,000. 1 in 8 of residents living in Illinois has unclaimed property and in the last 2 years more than $300 million has been paid out to legal owners by a proactive Illinois Treasury.

No one loses track of their hard-earned and generally tax paid financial assets. It seems “UnCanadian” to do nothing to help

To be clear, no one loses their hard-earned and generally tax paid financial assets on purposeAssets generally become lost as a result of a tragic event, forgetfulness, missing or damaged records or human error. In Ontario because there is no law that requires the holders of unclaimed financial assets to look for the asset owners, generally they don’t.  Much of the unclaimed or lost financial assets owing may not be life-changing windfalls, but I believe that hard-working Ontario residents deserve to have one place to search & find those unclaimed financial assets. Given that it’s 2018, it should not be this difficult to move forward to do what’s right when it would benefit consumers, taxpayers, and our cash strapped government treasury.

It seems at least to me so very “UnCanadian” to not move forward with unclaimed property legislation and do what’s right for the people of Ontario when ultimately it might serve to also be an economic action plan in waiting for Ontario and help the new Premier pay for some of his promises.

Unclaimed Financial Assets in Canada

Ontario needs unclaimed property legislation


Mortgage Insurance is not the same as Life Insurance

How many consumers know that Mortgage Insurance or Credit Insurance is not the same as Life Insurance ?

Mortgage insurance or Credit Insurance is not the same as Life Insurance but I fear that too many consumers don’t know the difference.   A lot of Mortgage or Credit Insurance is sold by lenders when consumers purchase a home or take out a line of credit. Lenders know how to lend but I question lenders being the right ones to sell consumers insurance. Could it be that one of the reasons that consumers don’t know the difference between Mortgage or Credit insurance and Life Insurance is BECAUSE they have purchased it from their lender? I believe it’s quite possible.

There are key differences between Mortgage or Credit insurance and Life Insurance.

Here are 4 Big Differences :

  1. Post Claim underwriting:  That’s the way Mortgage insurance works. But what does that mean? It’s all about the timing of the underwriting.  Underwriting for mortgage insurance is only done when and if you have a claim. Life insurance by contrast is underwritten when you purchase the policy. What that means is that the individual buying the mortgage or credit insurance may not be covered when they think they are, because they may not qualify for the coverage when they buy it. Paying premiums but no actual coverage?         Yes. That sounds crazy and a bit risky. Not having complete certainty about whether or not mortgage or credit insurance will payout can really hang a cloud over a financial plan. Google  “Mortgage Insurance Horror Stories if you have a strong heart to read or watch some heartbreaking tales of those who experienced a family death only to have a mortgage insurance claim denied.  Or watch the video from CBC marketplace on mortgage insurance vs. life insurance     CBC Marketplace – In denial
  2. Your family is not the beneficiary: In all the flurry and stress that can accompany buying a new house and signing all of the paperwork that comes with a mortgage,  consumers can often fail to notice  that their lender did not mention the subject of a beneficiary. That’s because  the lender is the automatic  beneficiary of the death benefit in a Mortgage or Credit insurance policy.  A  false sense of security may exist that cash will be made available upon the death of an individual with mortgage or credit insurance. Circumstances can and do vary greatly when an individual with a mortgage dies; paying off the mortgage may or may not be the best option. Cash might be more important.
  3. Same Premium Cost/Declining Benefit: Most of us understand why there’s an increasing premium over the course of a life insurance policy to retain the same amount of insurance as one ages. It intuitively, makes sense. But that’s not the way Mortgage insurance works. In the case of Mortgage insurance, consumers pay the same (high) premium even though the coverage or benefit (payout) is actually decreasing as the mortgage is paid out over time.
  4. Mortgage insurance is not portable: When changing lenders, mortgage insurance does not move with the mortgage. Higher rates based on age might apply that need to be factored in. With life insurance there is no need to ‘requalify’ for insurance and often with a renewable and convertible term policy, it can be converted to a permanent product at any time without a medical exam.

These differences are significantly significant. 

I think that the differences between Mortgage/Credit insurance and Life insurance are too significant to be left to chance. Often consumers purchasing Mortgage or Credit insurance are doing so at a time of much stress; taking on debt is always stressful. When signing a mortgage, getting a line of credit or taking out a car loan, I suspect that many believe that they will be looked upon unfavorably by their lender if they chose not to take the insurance at the same time. It might have to do with the very serious looking waiver that needs to be signed when a borrower declines,

The Option is real Life Insurance for real risk management 

The vast majority of financial experts agree: Life insurance provides better coverage, more Flexible coverage and in most cases less expensive coverage to reduce the financial risk that occurs when a borrower dies with outstanding debt.

The staff that consumers deal with through a lender are not licensed insurance professionals. So it’s hard not to question… Why are lenders selling mortgage or credit insurance when they are not trained for the specifics?

At the risk of losing credibility, I’m going to admit (for the greater good), that I found myself ain the middle of a credit insurance misunderstanding a few years ago when an increase in a line of credit was required a few years ago, as we closed on a house before selling a house we were moving from. Here are some of the gory details that took place between ourselves and a Big Bank Lender:

  • No information on premiums was provided
  • No health information was requested (See #1 above re: the way underwriting works for credit or mortgage insurance)
  • Outrageously expensive premiums of varying amounts were added to a line of credit each month. While I made notice of them, I fear others may not have noticed or questioned them.  I did both.
  • When questioned; our bank manager could not provide any information about the premiums. When I suggested we would move our business elsewhere, she agreed to reimburse and she did so; reimbursing us in varying amounts between $300-$500/month like it was from some sort of petty cash fund.

That’s an odd and surprising way to gain reimbursement of credit insurance premiums. Getting reimbursed was my main priority at the time, but many questions stay with me even a couple of years later:

  • Why was the reimbursement made in this way?
  • How were those premiums calculated since they varied so much over the few months that they were charged?
  • Why was proper documentation of the mortgage insurance not provided initially or after the fact?
  • How many other consumers are paying outrageous Mortgage or Credit insurance that they have accepted either without question without realizing?

What I do know, is that change is needed.  At minimum, consumers need to be made more aware and more financially literate about the differences between Mortgage or Credit insurance and Life Insurance. Mortgage insurance benefits creditors or lenders first;  but personal life insurance benefits individuals better. 

Take time to investigate and learn.

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


Unclaimed Credit Union accounts

Unclaimed Credit Union Accounts in Ontario

Inaction is a disadvantage for Credit Unions in Ontario

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

Unclaimed Credit Union accounts can be hard to find

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

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

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

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


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

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

Here’s their reply

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

We hope you will find the information provided useful.

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

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

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

How hard do insurers work to find life insurance beneficiaries ?

Lost Insurance policies cause additional grief

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

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

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

Ever changing insurance market


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

$63 Billion in Unclaimed Funds – pretty good reasons to get your ducks in a row

Are your ducks in a row? 

$58 Billion in Unclaimed financial assets in the US plus another $4-$6 Billion in Canada should be enough of a reason to get organized. These financial assets were no doubt hard-earned. A good majority of these assets are also for the most part, tax paid. $63 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
  • Etc.

Unclaimed financial assets also reside in a variety of places:

While held initially by a variety of different financial organizations or institutions, if you live in the US, after a set period of time, unclaimed financial assets will be gathered up by each State Treasury for safeguarding while at the same time, entered into an online search base where hopefully the legal owners or heirs will find those assets and make a claim.

Unclaimed Property legislation in the US is a win/win for the State and for the legal owners of those assets as the State is able to use those funds until they are claimed.

Check out

The US estimates that 1 in 10 Americans has unclaimed funds belonging to them. Unfortunately, only 2 provinces in Canada (Alberta and Quebec) have comprehensive unclaimed property legislation in place and provide searchable databases. BC has a voluntary system in place.

Check out some links that can help you locate unclaimed financial assets in Canada           Where to look in Canada

The staggering amount of unclaimed financial assets and the alarming rate at which unclaimed assets are increasing should be sufficient evidence of why all individuals and families need to properly safeguard their financial assets and the information about those assets appropriately. Helping with that challenge, is one of the core missions behind LegacyTracker.

Getting organized means centralizing information about your assets and sharing that information in case of an emergency or what we call a “What if” situation.

LegacyTracker enables you to keep track of your assets on an ongoing basis and share that information with loved ones (or advisors) as you wish when you wish. 

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 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.




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.




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

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 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 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


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

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

So that’s about it. That’s about all.

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

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

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

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

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

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





Canada – such a great Country but

Dear Canada

We love Canada butWe love you but It does not compute

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

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

And yet…

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

Apparently, not in Canada yet. 

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

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

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